Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark
dk . k r ma n e s D ark’ nm e t De eb sit i s i V ial w offic
IS CLEAN WATER AN ISSUE? Water is a basic necessity of life which we use in many ways: for drinking, bathing, washing, industrial processes, irrigation and recreation. But for much of the world, water is all too often unclean, threatening both human health and the environment. Providing clean water is a major challenge for the global community.
In Denmark today, clean water is taken for granted. But it has not always been so. In the past, vast quantities of effluent from agriculture and industry drained into our streams, lakes, harbours and the surrounding sea. It took a great deal of political will and years of focused legislation, research, innovative technology and investment, as well as popular acceptance and a willingness to take on the task and make change happen. But it has paid off. Today we drink clean water directly from the tap. And people can safely bathe – even in the harbour of our capital Copenhagen! Campaign for quality
Denmark’s long campaign to improve water quality has involved many separate initiatives: cleaning waste water and sewage, regulating and reducing the use and thus the discharge of fertilizers from agriculture, banning the use of chemicals that endanger groundwater, cleaning up
deposits of dangerous substances from former times. The gains are massive, both to the economy and the wellbeing of Danish citizens. Denmark is now among the world leaders in several key environmental technology areas including water treatment, systems for regulation, management and monitoring of water resources and quality, environmentally sound sewage and sanitation, fish farming technologies and slurry separation. Tackling global issues
Ongoing efforts will enable Denmark not only to ensure effective implementation of EU legislation in the water area, but also to play a significant role in tackling global issues in water quality. The World Health Organization estimates that close to 4,000 children die from water‐borne diseases every day, while UN figures show that more than 1 billion people are still without access to clean drinking water, and 2.6 billion people have no access to proper sanitation. The UN’s stated aim is for these figures to be halved by 2015.
Partners for progress
As part of the Danish government’s action plan for eco‐efficient technologies, a Water Partnership has been established to provide a market‐driven innovation platform that brings together Danish companies, research institutions, organisations and public authorities with key competencies in water supplies, including purification and reuse. The overall objective for the Water Partnership is: • To identify and develop new business opportunities in conservation, purification, reuse and management of water both in Denmark and internationally • To help establish development and business partnerships between Danish players in the water area • To gain environmental advantages from the developed concept solutions
IS CLEAN WATER AN ISSUE? Published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark. Address: Asiatisk Plads 2, DK-1448 Copenhagen K, Denmark. Published December 2007. ISBN978-87-7667-878-4
SWIMMING IN COPENHAGEN HARBOUR In Copenhagen – the capital city of Denmark – one of the trendiest spots is the public outdoor swimming facility in the Islands Brygge area where Copenhageners come to relax during the summer. Yet only 15 years ago this would have been impossible because the water was polluted to the extent that it posed a health risk. As a result of a long-term effort by Copenhagen municipality, you can swim in the water in the centre of Copenhagen.
For many years, the discharge of waste water from sewers and industrial companies polluted the water in Copenhagen harbour, and outdoor swimming became a thing of the past. The water was heavily polluted with sewage, algae, oil spills and industrial waste. Today, the situation is vastly improved as a result of Copenhagen Municipality’s efforts to improve the recreational environment in the harbour area. Copenhageners can now enjoy swimming in clean water thanks to the Municipality’s investments in expanding its wastewater treatment plants to remove nutrient salts and minimise discharge of heavy metals, as well as in modernising its sewer system.
In 1995, 93 overflow channels fed waste water into Copenhagen harbour and the adjacent coastlines. Since then, the municipality has built rainwater reservoirs and reservoir conduits, which can store waste water until there is space again in the sewage system. This has resulted in the closing of 55 overflow channels so that today, it is only during very heavy rainfall that waste water containing bacteria and other pollutants is discharged to the harbour. On these isolated occasions, of which there are very few during the summer season, an established on‐line warning system calculates the water quality in the harbour and the swimming facility at Islands Brygge is closed if the water quality is poor. More bathing areas
Copenhagen Municipality continues to modernise its sewage system and plans to build more rainwater reservoirs so that by 2010, discharge of waste water into the harbour during rainfall will be reduced to a minimum, resulting in bathing water quality throughout the entire Copenhagen Harbour. It is planned to establish two more bathing areas in the harbour in the near future.
The swimming facility has been expanded since it opened, and now has space for 600 visitors. There are 5 pools in total, two of which are for children.
Managing heavy rainfall
The progressive improvement of water quality in the harbour in recent years can especially be attributed to a reduction in the discharge of waste water during rainfall.
The Harbour Bath opened in 2002, and is a very popular oasis for Copenhageners during the summer season.
The gains are massive, both to the economy and the wellbeing of Danish citizens. The overall objective for the Water Partnership is: • To id...