Finland is one of the world’s richest countries in its water resources. The ridges making part of the Finnish national landscape contain excellent groundwater released through springs.
Only about 3% of the world’s water is sweet water.The bulk of sweet water is in glaciers, and only 0.5% of these water resources are available to mankind: in lakes, rivers and groundwaters.
One of the most recognisable features of the Finnish landscape are the sequences of ridges even several hundred kilometres long, which appear on an average every ten to twenty kilometres. Finland’s ridges border lake basins and hide immense groundwater pools inside them. Two large border formations of the ancient glacier (the Salpausselkäs) contain Finland’s largest groundwater resources. Finland’s ridges collecting groundwater were formed in the late ice age, about 10,000–12,000 years ago as a result of the melt water activity of the continental glacier. The melt waters flushed and sorted from the stone matter of the glacier bottom steep, often almost symmetric layers containing sand and shingles.
“Groundwater is present practically everywhere in the Finnish soil and rock. However, the groundwater resources of the best quality and suitable to community-scale water procurement are mostly in glacier river formations or ridges and in border formations. Finland’s utilisable groundwater resources are large precisely because of the ridges. Approximately a cubic metre a day for each Finn comes from the renewable groundwater of the ridge areas”, says specialist Miikka Paalijärvi of the Geological Survey of Finland.
The importance of pure water is to increase in the future. The UN estimates that by 2050 as much as a half of the world’s population will suffer from the lack of pure water. Already now, in 60% of Europe’s cities of over 100,000 inhabitants groundwater is consumed more rapidly than it is formed. In 2003, UNESCO studied water resources globally and found in its report the quality of Finland’s water resources the best in the world. The water of 80% of the lakes is of good or excellent quality. Groundwater resources are large and pure. The town of Lohja, located on Lohjanharju (Lohja Ridge) is an example of this. Lohjanharju is the western part of the first Salpausselkä ridge. The town of less than 50,000 inhabitants has nine groundwater extraction points in the Lohjanharju area. The water of seven of these is used as drinking water without any processing. The city of Lahti, in another ridge area, is also known for its excellent tap water, which is wholly groundwater.
There are at present about 6,000 groundwater areas in Finland, forming over five million cubic metres of groundwater a day. Although over 60% of the water distributed by water supply plants is groundwater, only less than 15% of the renewable groundwater resources is in use.
“The best-quality ridge groundwaters usually exist in large formations inland, such as the Salpausselkä ridges. In the high-level, large inland ridges, the oxygen conditions in groundwaters are usually good and, respectively, iron and manganese contents are small. When the retention time of water in the formation is sufficient, also the properties of the water are balanced, Some salts and micronutrients are dissolved in the water, and also, for example, the pH and buffering capacity against acidification usually increase a little,” says Paalijärvi.
“In Finland, the ridge formations are therefore the primary utilisable groundwater resource, which can never be fully replaced by rock groundwater.”
Rainwater is filtered as gravitational water through the shingles and sand of the ridges, meeting finally the impenetrable rock basis and changing into groundwater.
“The good suitability of groundwater as drinking water is due, among other things, to it having been purified from possible impurities after moving slowly through layers of soil and being better protected from dirt than surface water. At the same time, several micronutrients beneficial to people’s health dissolve into the water. Although there is substantial variation in the quality of groundwaters, on the national scale the quality is mainly good”, says Paalijärvi.
“There are several excellent groundwater deposits in Finland, the quality of which meets as such the qualitative requirements set on drinking and domestic water. The groundwater in the Finnish soil is usually naturally slightly acidic, very soft and contains only little salts.”
“For reducing risks, Finnish groundwaters are also protected by strictly regulating the land use of groundwater areas and the extraction of groundwater. According to national regulations, altering or spoiling groundwaters is unequivocally prohibited. Finnish legislation and the active administration and research of groundwater resources aim at securing the quality, quantity and usability of groundwater resources in the future as well.”
There are many good springs in the Finnish ridge areas, from which pure water filtered by layers of soil bubbles up. Hartwall’s Novelle spring water and Eden Springs’ water comes from the spring of Karhukangas ridge, Karijoki, in South Ostrobothnia. The age of the spring is estimated at about 8,000 years. Karhukangas is one of the best groundwater areas, because the esker is exceptionally thick. Finn Spring takes its water from Syrinharju, Lestijärvi. The area is known for its plentiful groundwater resources. The spring used by Polar Spring is located in the second Salpausselkä area, on the southern edge of the Finnish lake area.
The spring water bottled by Polar Spring comes directly through a closed pipeline from the PolarSpring spring located 200 metres from the factory’s bottling plant. CEO Niilo Pellonmaa of Polar Spring Ltd emphasises that Polar Spring uses no chemicals in the bottling of the water.
“The water is filtered only with mechanical filters.”
“Therefore I want to call the water we bottle natural water”, Pellonmaa notes.
“The PolarSpring spring in the Salpausselkä ridge area is a very pure water deposit. Before bottling, the water is run through mechanical filters. The density of the filters we use is 0.2 microns. Human hair is about 250 times thicker. It is about one fiftieth part of human hair. Despite such fine filters, the filters only need to be replaced once a year, and they are not blocked even then. The filter manufacturers find this hard to believe.”
Pellonmaa takes pride in the purity of the soil in the PolarSpring spring area.
“The water comes in the form of rain and snow in the ridge area, where there is only forest.”
PolarSpring water is filtered by nature. The esker is a good filter.
“Natural water is like wine. The water from each spring is different in composition. It is very important to know the composition of the water. That way you know what you drink and find water you like.”
Polar Spring’s water is consumed on Finnair’s flights, and it is exported, for example, to China. As an enterprise, Polar Spring utilises its spring in a sustainable manner. Only the necessary amount of water runs to the pipeline for bottling. The spring has an overflow pipe, which means that the spring bubbles up water back to nature, when bottling is not running.
“Our most important objective is to bottle the water so that its properties do not change. The water is filtered, but nothing is added to it, and it is not processed in any way. Water bottled into PET bottles is as natural as the spring water”, says Polar Spring’s sector manager Kalle Rajakangas.
Finding a good water source can be compared to an ore finding. The output of a good water source needs to be quite large in order for it to be used commercially in a sustainable manner. Also the water composition must remain stable from one year and season to the other. Good natural water is the king of all beverages.
Ari Turunen (2017)
“I want to call the water we bottle natural water.”
In 2003, UNESCO found the quality of Finland’s water resources the best in the world. 60% of drinking water is groundwater. According to UNESCO, a billion people in the world suffer from poor water.(Water for People, Water for Life. The United Nations World Water Development Report, UNESCO and Berghan Books, 2003)
In 2003, UNESCO studied water resources globally and found in its report the quality of Finland’s water resources the best in the world.
Geological Survey of Finland (GTK)
The GTK is a specialist organisation under the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. www.gtk.fi