The water quality produced by Turku Region Water in Finland has been evaluated among the best in the world. The company is one of the largest suppliers of drinking water using managed aquifer recharge. The contribution of the Unesco book is a tribute to the Finnish water know-how, as the shortage of groundwater is a global challenge to be solved.
Finnish water know-how has been highlighted in a book ”Managing Aquifer Recharge – A Showcase for Resilience and Sustainability” published by Unesco 30.11.2021. Managed aquifer recharge (MAR) -method is presented as an efficient, ecological and sustainable way of producing water as the available groundwater resources are heavily diminishing throughout the world. The book represents 28 MAR plants from 21 different countries, from which Turku Region Water plant in Virttaankangas is the only Nordic waterworks. Approximately half of the cases concentrate on plants that produce drinking water, while in the rest of the cases show how MAR is used for other purposes, such as irrigation or aquifer storage and recovery.
The Virttaankangas water plant is one of the largest drinking water suppliers in world that use MAR.
The natural purification process of the infiltrated water within the sand and gravel aquifer is essential to the water quality improvement in the Virttaankangas case. As a consequence, Turku Region Water supply shared the first place in the international quality evaluation represented in the book. In addition, the MAR water supply of Turku Region Water was referred as an exceptional example in the Unesco publication in several occasions. CEO Aki Artimo, production manager Osmo Puurunen and hydrogeologist Sami Saraperä co-authored two chapters in the book.
A tribute to the Finnish water know-how
CEO Artimo is extremely delighted of the good results in the quality evaluation: ”The quality evaluation included not only the excellent quality of drinking water but also ecological, legislational, environmental and energy efficiency aspects. The success in the international comparison of MAR water suppliers and the recognition in the Unesco publication is a tribute to Turku Region Water expertise. This might also open new possibilities for the export of the Finnish water know-how. ”
The Virttaankangas MAR plant is pointed out internationally as an exceptional example of water production in the new publication of Unesco. In addition, the Virttaankangas Managed Aquifer Recharge plant was ranked among the three largest drinking water producing Managed Aquifer Recharge plants in the world. Turku Region Water had exceptional succes in the comparisons concerning the quality of water and sustainability. Besides, the showcase included an evaluation of the pricing of the water produced by the water plants.
Sustainable water production
The Unesco publication highlights that the Virttaankangas MAR plant has been planned honoring the sustainability and nature with the best available technology. The foundations of the water supply plant are the thorough hydrogeological modelings and water quality studies. The production and delivery system of water is extensively monitored and managed by knowledge and competency. The high quality of water supply benefits not only consumers of Turku region, but also local trade and industry. The MAR can be an optional method to help with the shortage of good quality drinking water all over the world. Six of the UN sustainability goals are promoted by water production of Turku Region Water.
Excellent water production and delivery is an important asset for the Turku region
The first Unesco publication on groundwater sustainability indicators was published in 2007, in which the geological understanding and modeling tools of the Virttaankangas Aquifer were already represented, even though the MAR plant was still in the making. The international tribute didn’t surprise CEO Artimo:
”The foundation of Virttaankangas MAR plant is based on the thorough hydrogeological and water quality investigations, utilizing the latest technology. In addition, the production system has been complemented with a water delivery system build in regional co-operation. What makes us unique are the same professional and highly skilled employees who have been involved in reserch, design, execution and production phases of the water supply system. This is something that usually does not happen in water supply projects. Turku region consumers, industry and commerce have the advantage of enjoying excellent drinking water, which is safe, economical and ecological.”
Artimo, A., Puurunen, O. and Saraperä, S. (in press). Case Study 2: Managed Aquifer Recharge for Drinking Water Supply, Turku Region, Southwestern Finland. p76-82 in Zheng, Y., Ross, A., Villholth, K.G. and Dillon, P. (eds.) (2020). Managing Aquifer Recharge: A Showcase for Resilience and Sustainability. A UNESCO-IAH-GRIPP Publication. <Web URL>-to be advised.
Lavapuro, Maarit; Lipponen, Annukka; Artimo, Aki 2007. Groundwater sustainability indicators: testing with Finnish data. In: Vrba, Jaroslav; Lipponen, Annukka (eds.) Groundwater Resources Sustainability Indicators. IHP-VI Series on Groundwater No. 14. UNESCO 2007. 52-72.
Turku Region Water Ltd. is a wholesale water company providing drinking water for the nine Turku region municipalities. It produces 65 000 ㎥ water daily for 300 000 consumers, industry and commerce. The Virttaankangas Managed Aquifer Recharge plant was founded in 2011 to secure the water production of the region for decades to come. It’s the largest Managed Aquifer Recharge plant and the second largest water drinking plant in Finland. The water production and delivery of Turku Region Water is safe, ecological, economical and promotes six of the UN sustainability goals.
A quote of the study:
This is an exceptional case that has been founded on thorough hydrogeological and water quality investigations to improve drinking water security and quality for 300,000 people by pretreating river water brought from 100km away by coagulation filtration and then recharging an aquifer via infiltration basins to buffer the water storage and provide additional water treatment before recovery, chlorination and distribution. The system is extensively monitored and managed to ensure compliance with Environmental and Health regulations.