In 1975, when Russian Tatiana Fedorovna Stepanenko went to work at Vodokanal, a state enterprise in St. Petersburg, she set her sights on finding ways to limit levels of waste dumped into the Neva River system and the Baltic Sea.
She wrote, "... the sewage waters of industrial enterprises of St. Petersburg are discharged without any surveying whatsoever...". Soon after, not only did she find high levels of extremely polluted waste water discharged by industry, but many of those industries were part of the defence complex.
Her work posed enormous challenges: environmental protection was not high on the policy agenda and the defence industry was not obliged to follow the few environmental regulations in place.
Tatiana Stepanenko persevered. In the end, she established an information collection system of the industrial waste dumped into the water. The findings prompted the government to draft regulations for industry that included supervisory measures and a system of fees structured according to a polluter pays principle.
The goal she set out to achieve took 18 years. The policy Tatiana Stepanenko helped develop is now in force in all Russian municipalities. But this is not the end of her story. In 1994, she established a fund for the fees collected from polluters to finance projects to improve the ecology and urban environment. As the director of Vodokanal she organized seminars to educate industry about protecting seas and waterways.
Tatiana F Stepanenko 30-135 Zanewski pr St. Petersburg 195112 Russian Federation