Västervik Municipality is located in southern Sweden, in the north of Kalmar County with the Tjust archipelago and the Baltic Sea in the east. Västervik covers one of the largest municipality areas in southern Sweden. The land area covers 1 875 km² and there is almost as much water area as land area.
Agriculture and forestry are important sectors in Västervik. The tourism industry is also important for Västervik, as the municipality receives about 1.5 million visitors annually.
Västervik Municipality has a long coast and an extensive archipelago. It provides many opportunities for development, but also includes responsibility for the Baltic environment. Västervik archipelago, covered by about 5000 islands, offers a variety of outdoor activities and a rich fish selection. Most of the bays are deep with a shallow mouth. The exchange of water between the inner deeper part and the open sea is low. This makes benthic ecosystems particularly vulnerable. The poor water circulation leads to nutrient-rich water and bad oxygen conditions at the bottom. As Västervik is characterized by its proximity to the Baltic Sea, the eutrophication problem is palpable. Coastal Water sensitivity to eutrophication is higher in the inner archipelago. The symptoms of eutrophication have been obvious; including increased distribution of algae’s, decreased water transparency and reduced opportunities for recreation.
Västervik has been working for many years in a holistic way to reduce the nutrient load. Sustainable work (year after year) with advising, local projects and high requirements in wastewater treatment and agriculture has been the method. Always in collaboration with stakeholders, farmers and owners of property/houses. Västervik has invested in improved sewage treatment plants. Recently the renovation of the Gamleby municipal wastewater treatment plant was completed. The plant has a modern technology with remote monitored processes and high nitrogen reduction. Västervik has set high requirements for small private wastewater treatment systems. An adviser has during several years been working with areas with summerhouses. Information and discussions about problems and solutions for sustainable wastewater has been in focus.
Since the anthropogenic nutrient load to the coastal waters is dominated by agriculture the municipality is focusing on reducing emissions from agriculture. Many different measures have been successfully developed and implemented by local farmers. Some examples are; construction of wetlands, liming to improve soil structure, and two-stage ditches, mussel farming, etc. A prerequisite for success is that measures can be done with economically sustainable methods.
Theme Water is an intersectoral body for water issues in Västervik that ties together various municipal “roles” of authority, development, wastewater treatment, etc. TW was formed in 2011 and includes the politicians in the presidiums of the Municipal Government, the Department of Environment and Planning and Västervik Energy & Environment AB together with the department managers and project leaders for municipal water projects.