Juhani Järveläinen: “There is world­wide demand for Finnish storm­water solutions”

Interview 31.12.2018

How can the amount of microplastics in the oceans be reduced? One solution may lie in having cleaner stormwater than at present. Juhani Järveläinen from Lahti is coordinating a project that is developing new ways of purifying and managing stormwater.

The ordinary person rarely comes to think about how rain and snowmelt affect water bodies. Rain and snowmelt are called stormwater, which do not get absorbed into the soil in urban environments. Through drainage networks and sewers, they are often carried directly into receiving water bodies and carry with them, for example, cigarette butts, nutrients, heavy metals and debris. Juhani Järveläinen, water resources engineer for the City of Lahti, believes that Finnish solutions can improve the quality of stormwaters around the world.

“There is certainly worldwide demand for Finnish solutions. Problems related to stormwater around the world are even greater than in Finland, because Finnish cities are really small on a global scale”, Järveläinen states.

Järveläinen is the project coordinator of the New Smart & Clean Stormwater Management Solutions project, which is developing new solutions for stormwater purification and management. This work is especially important at this moment, because the amount of stormwater is likely to increase in the future. Cities will grow larger and denser and climate change has been predicted to increase rainfall.

“At the moment, the pollutants transported along with stormwaters are a significant strain on the water bodies near cities. In Lahti, for example, about a third of the external phosphorus load of Lake Vesijärvi’s Enonselkä Basin originates from urban stormwater”, Järveläinen explains.

Developing more comprehensive Finnish water expertise

In order to bring about change, a wide variety of the numerous actors of society have to be inspired to join in. As the stormwater project’s coordinator, Järveläinen has a crucial role in making sure the project is effective and runs smoothly.

“We need companies to create solutions, cities to provide trial environments and research institutions to conduct analyses on the functionality of the solutions. As coordinator, I look at the project as a whole: I communicate, report and make sure the cooperation runs smoothly”, says Järveläinen.

Järveläinen strongly believes in Finnish know-how. As project coordinator, his aim is to strengthen and diversify Finland’s water industry expertise.

“Finland is already known around the world for its water expertise. That’s why it would be natural to extend this expertise to stormwater as well. There is an interest in comprehensive solutions and this project is adding new perspectives to them. Finns could solve all the challenges related to the water bodies in individual regions, whether they concern stormwaters, the remediation of water bodies or something else.”