Turku Region Water Ltd. – Sustainable Production and International Export from Managed Aquifer Recharge

Turku Region Water Ltd. and the Geological Survey of Finland (GTK) worked together to create an internationally acknowledged Managed Aquifer Recharge (MAR) solution that follows nature’s own processes and is an example of Finnish water management export.

closeup hand drinking fresh water, healthcare concept
Image: Adobe Stock

The Challenge for Turku Region Water

Managed Aquifer Recharge as a Solution to the Adequacy and Quality of Household Water

In early 2000s, Turku Region Water Ltd. launched the artificially recharged groundwater project in its current organisational form as a wholesale water company owned by nine municipalities. The project’s objective was to solve the difficulties related to the region’s household water adequacy and quality. The potential of the groundwater in the ridge area of Virttaankangas had been known for a long time, but the area could not meet the household water needs of the 300,000 residents in the area. The company came up with the idea of a Managed Aquifer Recharge solution, in which the raw water from Kokemäenjoki would be led to a pre-treatment plant at Huittinen and then 30 kilometres further to Virttaankangas Artificial Recharge Facility. The water is then treated at the plant naturally, following the ridge’s own processes.

– The Virttaankangas Artificial Recharge Facility has produced water at full capacity since 2013, and there have been no issues, even temporarily, with the adequacy and quality of the water during this time. We have been able to secure high-quality drinking water by natural means for the whole region and for long time in the future, says Aki Artimo, the CEO of Turku Region Water Ltd.

GTK Offering Solutions

Finland’s Most Researched Groundwater Aquifer

The Managed Aquifer Recharge solution could not had been considered without a thorough background study of the geology of Virttaankangas groundwater area. The company was interested in the boundary conditions of the area, which allowed using the ridge formation for water production. The Geological Survey of Finland was the company’s project partner in the preliminary surveys. The services provided covered everything from minerological studies and reflection seismic surveys to a pioneering application of an isotope studies method in groundwater research.

The project has provided excellent reference material and a testing field for new research methods. GTK has the best research equipment for this, as well as know-how that we were not able to obtain elsewhere. – Aki Artimo, CEO, Turku Region Water Ltd.

– We have often made the claim that Virttaankangas is the most researched groundwater aquifer in Finland, and this is probably also true. The project has provided excellent reference material and a testing field for new research methods. GTK has the best research equipment for this, as well as know-how that we were not able to obtain elsewhere. We had to make sure that the Managed Aquifer Recharge solution would work properly, especially during the permit process and due to initial public opposition to the project. GTK`s cross-sectional competence and business continuity were important here, Aki Artimo explains.

Going Forward

Finnish Water Management as an Export Product

Finns do not always appreciate the high quality and operational reliability of Finnish water services. Elsewhere, however, there is a high demand for this kind of knowledge, when it comes to availability of clean drinking water. In recent years, there has been a realisation that Finland has top class water management know-how, especially when it comes to production methods and sustainability, and this makes it a potential export product. Turku Region Water and GTK have now changed direction towards international projects, and Finnish Managed Aquifer Recharge solutions have been exported to Vietnam, for example.

– The cooperation between Turku Region Water and GTK continues in international sustainable development projects. Managed Aquifer Recharge is an ecological method for producing drinking water, and the method is not in any way limited to Nordic countries. We hope that using the method would extend further and become part of water service policies in other regions too, concludes Osmo Puurunen, the Production Manager of Turku Region Water Ltd.

More on GTK’s services

The Virttaankangas groundwater area. Image: © Sami Saraperä, Turku Region Water Ltd.