Our oceans and waters are under great pressure. If our lakes and oceans are to flourish and we are to continue having access to clean drinking water in the future, we must protect our waters from hazardous substances and start to see wastewater as a resource.

There are about 1,400,000,000,000 liters of water on earth. Only three percent of this volume is freshwater, the remainder is saltwater. Sweden has a history of having plenty of water in general. In recent years, this has changed in many places due to weather conditions and less rainfall.

Since the 1960s it is possible to see which years have had unusually low groundwater levels in Sweden. The periods 1976-1977, 1996-1997 and 2016-2017 were the most affected years in terms of water shortage.

Interest in saving water and seeing water as a resource is growing in both industry and municipal players. Most households in Sweden are connected to a municipal sewage treatment plant, but about 1 million people still have individual sewage treatment plants.

Sweden runs R&D in, among other things, advanced purification of wastewater but also source-sorting wastewater systems for efficient utilization of the water resource. In wastewater, in addition to the freshwater resource, there are also important plant netting substances and moles forming substances that can be better utilized. today, only one-third is returned to agricultural land.

The overall aim of the Swedish environmental policy is to hand over a society in which the major environmental problems facing the country have been solved. This is summed up in a ‘generational goal’, which describes what is to be protected and what changes need to be made in our society. This system entails the genera­tional goal and the 16 environmental quality objectives.

The work within wastewater and water has many connections to environmental quality objectives such as:

  • Good-Quality Groundwater
  • Flourishing Lakes and Streams
  • Thriving Wetlands
  • A Balanced Marine Environment, Flourishing Coastal Areas and Archipelagos Zero Eutrophication
  • A Good Built Environment
  • A Non-Toxic Environment


  • The 1800s: Sweden is beginning to build water and sewage systems
  • 1960-70s: Large-scale development of water and sewage systems. In the 1960s, around half of Sweden’s population was connected to the sewage system. Ten years later, that number had increased to 75 %.
  • 1994: Sweden’s EU membership led to improvements in water and sewage systems.

Related Best Practices

Gothenburg Smart District Cooling

The City of Gothenburg in Sweden uses a district cooling system powered by the cool flows from Göta älv.

Ebbepark- city transformation by testbed setting

Ebbepark is a city district in transformation, that invites partners to develop their solutions to push ahead on the sustainable transformation.

Circular Water Solutions in southern Gotland

In recent years, the island of Gotland has experienced a severe water crisis, negatively affecting tourism and small-scale industries. Water shortages hinder economic development due to strict regulations for building of new houses and the start-up of new business that consume water. Innovative circular water solutions are tested and evaluated in the testbed area Storsudret in southern Gotland.

Let the nature do the work – Stockholm Royal Seaport

Stockholm Royal Seaport, one of the world’s biggest urban planning projects, has developed an integrated stormwater system that purifies and delays storm- and meltwater before it is released into the sea. The system connects green roofs and rooftop gardens with ponds, open storm drain water and surface water drain and urban greenery.

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