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  • Bringing neighbours closer

    Bringing neighbours closer

    Welcome to the Interreg V-A Latvia–Lithuania Programme 2014–2020!

    About the programme
  • Bringing neighbours closer

    Bringing neighbours closer

    Welcome to the Interreg V-A Latvia–Lithuania Programme 2014–2020!

  • Bringing neighbours closer

    Bringing neighbours closer

    Welcome to the Interreg V-A Latvia–Lithuania Programme 2014–2020!

LLI-527 Pharmaceuticals in wastewaters – levels, impacts and reduction (MEDWwater)

The project anticipated cooperation between research institutions (Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology Agency of Daugavpils University and Klaipeda University) and national public and regional institutions to increase knowledge to shape policy and specific measures dealing with active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) in both countries for example tracking of API consumption and detection in the environment. The opinion of environmental protection authorities and supporting organizations from both countries was considered during regular meetings and consultations when:

  •  elaborating the criteria and developing the list of API for monitoring in waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) and receiving water bodies in Latvia and Lithuania;
  •  developing the priority WWTPs list for the future implementation of advanced treatment technologies;
  •  developing policy recommendations for the removal of pharmaceuticals from WWTPs.

Project Results

Development and implementation of water protection policy/strategy-oriented recommendations for the removal of APIs from WWTPs concern a large group of stakeholders in both countries, starting from the general public to NGOs, municipal authorities, operators of the waste water treatment facilities, environmental authorities, and national decision-makers. Strategical recommendations are targeted to support future prioritization and development of policy measures for the reduction of APIs and other micropollutants (MPs) in the environment. The implementation of the developed recommendations will:

  1. Foster prioritization of adequate measures, such as a priority list of WWTPs for future upgrading depending on API pollution loads and the status of receiving water bodies.
  2. Increase the ability of WWTP operators and national decision-makers to make justified decisions when investing in suitable advanced treatment technologies to reduce the MP load on receiving water bodies in the future.

Social media and contacts:
Phone: +37167601995
Address: Voleru Str.4, Riga, Latvia

30 September 2021

Newsletter Nr.1 of the project MEDWwater

The first period of project MEDWwater is over. In this newsletter you fill find information about activities carried out during this period and the actual information about project related topics.

Introducing our first newsletter of the project MEDWwater


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16 August 2021

Presence of pharmaceuticals in wastewater studied within a large-scale project

To study the pollution with pharmaceutical active compounds in wastewater and water bodies in Latvia and Lithuania, scientists, researchers and experts from both countries have been working together under a joint project for almost two years now. The project “Pharmaceuticals in wastewater–levels, impacts and reduction” is financed by the EU, and searching for a solution to reduce the pollution caused by pharmaceutical products is among the project’s key goals.

 “Although many pharmaceuticals from various wastewater treatment plants enter the freshwater and saltwater in the Baltic Sea Region, no long-term and continuous studies on this type of pollution have been carried out in Latvia and Lithuania until now, resulting in lack of information,” explains one of the scientists participating in the project Dr Sergej Suzdalev from Klaipėda University. He says that presence of pharmaceutical compounds will be studied in 16 wastewater treatment plants in both countries and water and wastewater samples will be taken in July and December this year. The chemical analysis of the collected samples will be performed using state-of-the-art equipment of the Coastal Environment and Biogeochemistry Laboratory at the Marine Research Institute, Klaipėda University. The project manager researcher Ieva Putna-Nīmane from Daugavpils University Agency “Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology” points out that this kind of pollution is a topical issue. “Although there are some clues and data from the previous projects suggest that there is pollution with pharmaceutical active compounds in the territory of Latvia and Lithuania, as we use medications, we cannot make any comparative conclusions about its scale yet. Therefore, we are glad that the project MEDWwater was supported and has been launched.” She informed that, within the project, 25 pharmaceutical active compounds will be identified establishment of concentration of which in wastewater is recommended by the EU, together with substances used by the inhabitants of Latvia and Lithuania in comparatively big amounts. At the end of the project after studying the data obtained, the scientists will draw conclusions about the harm that presence of pharmaceutical active compounds may cause to the environment.

In cooperation with experienced foreign experts, recommendations and technical solutions for better removal of pharmaceutical active compounds will be provided to two operators of wastewater treatment plants. Having summarised the project results, experts will prepare recommendations for wastewater monitoring.

Along with the scientific research part, the project also includes an information, education and communication campaign about the adverse effect of pharmaceuticals on the environment and how to dispose of drugs after their expiration date or that are not used.

The project gathers scientists, environmental experts and other specialists from Daugavpils University Agency “Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology”, the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre, Kurzeme Planning Region, State Agency of Medicines, State Medicines Control Agency under the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania, and Klaipėda University.

The project runs from February 2021 until the end of 2022. The overall budget amounts to nearly 700 thousand euro, and the co-financing by the European Regional Development Fund programme Interreg V-A Latvia-Lithuania Programme 2014-2020 is slightly above 572,000 euro.

According to the data of the State Medicines Control Agency under the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Lithuania and the State Agency of Medicines of the Republic of Latvia, the amount of medicines and pharmaceutical products sold increases year by year. The human body cannot assimilate and metabolise all substances contained by medicines or pharmaceutical products, thus part of them are discharged and, most often, arrive at wastewater treatment plants. Unfortunately, the existing technologies of wastewater treatment plants in Latvia and Lithuania cannot fully remove pharmaceutical active compounds from wastewater, and these substances enter the surface waters and soil in a concentration that may harm the environment. Moreover, there are people who throw the old and not used medications away with household waste or flush them instead of dropping them off at pharmacy, and such behaviour increase the pollution even more!

One of the important steps that should be taken to reduce the environmental pollution with pharmaceutical active compounds, is taking the old and not used medications back to pharmacies where they are disposed of in a correct and safe manner.

Previously, Latvia and Lithuania participated in two international projects under which research about the pollution with pharmaceutical active compounds were implemented (CWPharma and Morpheus). The MEDWwater project is a continuation and the first big-scale research carried out in Latvia and Lithuania at the same time. Within this project, the concentration of substances will be detected in water bodies before and after wastewater treatment plants and in treated and untreated wastewaters, the environmental impact will be determined, and solutions will be searched for to improve the situation.

One of the project activities, the strategic document “Recommendations for wastewater treatment plants”, will allow better management of nature resources not only within the Programme’s territory but also on a national scale in Latvia and Lithuania.

This publication has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of Kurzeme Planning Region and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.

Information is prepared by
Liena Freimane
Project MEDWwater communication coordinator


Ph.: + 371 26306030

More about project:


Project in a nutshell.

Project duration:

February 1, 2021 – December 31, 2022


Project budget:

Total projects size is 673 772.88 EUR

Out of them co-funding of European Regional  Development Fund is 572 706.92 EUR


Project Partners:

Lead Partner – Latvian Institute of Aquatic Ecology Agency of Daugavpils University,, in cooperation with 5 partners from Latvia and Lithuania:

Kurzeme Planning Region,

Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre,

University of Klaipeda,

State Agency of Medicines of Latvia,

State Medicines Control Agency under the Ministry of Health of Republic of Lithuania,




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The main aim of the MEDWwater project was strongly linked to the specific objective of the Programme – Efficient and integrated environmental resource management (e.g. new or improved management processes, applied due to active cooperation between involved stakeholders). The project focused on increase the efficiency of active pharmaceutical ingredien (API) pollution management and increase integration between national decision-making authorities and waste water treatment plant operators. To achieve it, the project had three objectives: obtain up-to-date information on the occurrence and risks of APIs in the LATLIT program area, obtain new knowledge on the real loads and environmental behavior of selected APIs in the LATLIT program area and to facilitate decision-making on the application of advanced treatment by setting priorities on APIs removal in selected waste water treatment plants (WWTPs) from the LATLIT Programme area. In parallel project scientific and applied part, communication activities were implemented by organizing a communication campaign.

To achieve the objectives of the project, API consumption data were collected for 25 identified and prioritized APIs from years 2018 – 2020, as well as their ecotoxicity data in order to assess environmental risks, and suggestions were given on future monitoring API monitoring and pharmaceutical lists to be monitored, that were based also on existing knowledge and good practices on choosing and monitoring APIs and pharmaceuticals in selected European countries, from the previous projects and EU legislation.

8 WWTPs in Latvia and 8 WWTPs were selected and described for detection of API concentrations (in treated and untreated waste water as well as downstream and upstream receiving waterbody) in two seasons. Samples of treated and untreated waste water were taken also for whole effluent assessment by using ecotoxicity test methods. In total 3200 chemical analyses were performed and 128 ecotoxicity tests. Environmental risk coefficients were calculated for each substance in each sampling site for each substance. All data were analyzed and described.

Photos. Sampling in Lithuania

To see good practices and compare API concentrations in places with good practices, a study visit was organized to Sweden. Based on the study visit and results of API concentrations in Latvia and Lithuania, a priority list of WWTPs for future upgrading depending on API pollution loads and contamination status of receiving water bodies was developed together with a criteria flow chart.

Photos. Study visit in Sweden. Participants – representatives of project partners and members of the Advisory Board.

Recommendations for wastewater treatment plants for the safe removal of API and a list of APIs to be monitored were created based on existing strategies, legislation, and planning documents regarding monitoring and impact on the environment, and possible reduction of API loads to the environment.

To provide stakeholders with detailed information about advanced WWTP technologies for the removal of APIs, a European expert from Switzerland was introduced to present two presentations in the MEDWwater Mid-term seminar.


To provide technical information regarding possible upgrade of WWTPs in Latvia and Lithuania, technical consultations were organized by a European expert from Germany, who visited WWTPs in Latvia and Lithuania and prepared an overview of possible optimization of selected WWTPs, that are translated into national languages.

Photos. Technical consultations – European expert from Germany visiting Liepāja WWTP in Latvia.

Based on all previous reports and implemented projects previously European expert developed recommendations for wastewater treatment plants for safe removal of pharmaceuticals and a list of APIs to be monitored.

All results of the project are published:

In addition to the scientific research part of the project, within the MEDWwater project, there was also an informational campaign for citizens “Nature Needs No Pill” to promote the handing over of useless medicines to pharmacies, thus reducing their end up in household waste and sewage. The campaign was held in cooperation with pharmacies, also involving other project partners and organizations. More about the campaign

Last updated: 27.05.2024 13:09