3.A.3.1 Hot spots (overview)

Hot spots are defined as the dominant point sources on the coast of the Black Sea affecting human health, ecosystems, sustainability or economy. They are the main points discharging high levels of pollution loads originating from domestic or industrial sources.

Different types of pollutants available in domestic and/or industrial discharges have different effects on human health and ecosystems at the point of discharge and in the surrounding environment. This surrounding environment may be very large and may extend beyond international borders. The risks increase proportionally with the quantity of the wastewater and concentration of the pollutant.

The risk raised to human health is via microorganisms which are present in wastewater and which may come into direct contact with human beings. Several diseases can therefore be spread through domestic discharges. The representative parameter for these microorganisms is E. Coli. Although E. Coli does not have a direct effect on the environment or people, it indicates the existence of pathogens in the same discharge. The presence of E. Coli is not only important with respect to the impacts on health, but also the economic costs associated with it such as loss of tourism income due to microbiological pollution of bathing beaches.

Organic pollutants are detected in the water body indirectly by measuring BOD, COD or similar parameters. These parameters indicate that an oxygen consuming matter has entered the receiving body and that microorganisms which are naturally available in the water body will consume oxygen for the digestion of this carbonaceous material. This leads to oxygen depletion in the water body and causes harm to fish and other sea life. Resulting effects may either be local such as the reduction of water productivity and important aesthetic problems or they may be transboundary such as a decrease in the productivity of a regional fishery or the destruction of breeding places of some species.

The nutrients originating from domestic and organic sources promote the production of algae, which may quickly become dominant in the water body. The production of algae will decrease the oxygen content and may result in problems similar to the oxygen consuming agents. These include an explosion of green plants in the sea leading to aesthetic problems on beaches, wetlands and other recreational areas, resulting in a decrease of productivity and loss of income from tourism.

Suspended solids carried with wastewater are the main reason for turbidity in the sea and may directly harm fish species. Oil and grease may also kill sea creatures by blocking their respiration system. The penetration of oxygen will be hindered by these materials and sea life may be destroyed. Heavy metal ions such as copper, nickel, mercury, cadmium etc., along with some inorganic substances such as cyanide pose direct risks to human health and sea life due to their toxicity, as do organic substances such as phenols and pesticides. They usually cannot be disposed of from the body they enter and accumulate in the long term. Thus, a small fraction of these may damage the body several years after this accumulation process actually begun. They may even be transferred through the food chain by fish and other marine species in the region.

Based on the above, special attention was given to domestic wastewaters including toxicity, oil, grease and nutrient loads in determination of the hot spots in the region. For the evaluation of priority hot spots in the region, several effects have been considered. These are: (1) human health, (2) drinking water quality, (3) natural aquatic life, (4) wetland and recreational areas, (5) other beneficial uses of the sea and (6) economy and welfare.

In each country of the region a ‘long list’ of potential hot spots was prepared. The lists consisted of the largest sources of domestic and industrial wastewater, but included all sources emitting toxic substances. The risk exerted by the point sources in the long list to the factors listed in Paragraph 7 was graded from 1 to 6, from no effects to severe, respectively. The results of the grading are shown in the columns 4 to 10 in the attached Table. A multiplier depending on the importance of the effected entry was applied to the grades. This multiplier was 1.0 for public health effects, 0.9 for effects on drinking water quality, 0.8 for effects on recreation and other beneficial uses of the water body, and 0.7 for aquatic life and economy. The final weighted total of the grading is submitted in column 11 of the Table. Grading of the hot spots of Georgia is not yet available since this country has submitted the rankings but not the grades. In column 12, a relative index for each country has been provided, taking into account that absolute grading levels may differ for each country. The weighted total of grades are between 8.3 and 28.5, while the relative index is between 52-100 for all the countries.

As a result of this exercise 49 hot spots have been identified in the region; 9 of them in Bulgaria, 6 in Georgia, 6 in Romania, 8 in Russia, 10 in Turkey and 10 in Ukraine. Several projects have been proposed for the abatement of these hot spots including the rehabilitation, extension, and upgrading of the existing infrastructure as well as the construction of new facilities and in-plant precautions.

The transboundary effects of all hot spots have been evaluated in Column 14 of the Table. The possible transboundary effects may involve: fisheries, resulting in a decline in productive capacity; destruction of wetlands and habitat of migratory fauna; biodiversity, by endangering some species located in the region; landscape, by reducing the regional value of Black Sea tourism; accidents polluting transboundary zones; and public health.

The investment need for abatement of hot spot was determined as $397,222,000, including $36,450,000 for Bulgaria, $35,500,000 for Georgia, $82,294,000 for Romania, $63,500,000 for Russia, $97,000,000 for Turkey and $82,478,000 for Ukraine. The reliability of these financial figures are higher for Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania and partially for Ukraine. Figures given for Russia and Georgia are extrapolated by the PCU because of the lack of data supplied by these countries.

The total annual cost of operation and maintenance for the selected projects is $20,880,000 ; more specifically, $1,800,000 for Bulgaria, $1,500,000 for Georgia, $2,544,000 for Romania, 2,568,000 for Russia, 3,540,000 for Turkey and $8,928,000 for Ukraine. These figures have been partially extrapolated by some countries from their own experiences (Turkey, Ukraine). For the other countries the O&M costs have been calculated as a function of the investment costs. It should be noted that in calculating the above, neither the implementation costs nor the O&M costs have taken into account the effects of inflation.

Abatement of the above hot spots should result in an estimated 74 % reduction of total pathogenic bacteria discharged to the Black Sea and will therefore contribute considerably to the improvement of public health. The abatement will also reduce about 72 % of the BOD load, 61.5 % of the total nitrogen and 79 % of the phosphorous originating from domestic and industrial sources around the Black Sea. These are considered the most harmful sources.

The above abatement is equivalent to 10.6 % reduction in total BOD, 23 % reduction in total nitrogen and 13% reduction in total phosphorous discharged to the Black Sea from all point sources and rivers.

See also

3.A.3.2 Hot spots (summary)
3.A.3.3 Estimated operation and maintainance cost
2.A.3 Control of pollution hot spots in the Black Sea coastal region
3.A.1 Pollutant Loads
3.A.2 Pollution Surveys