Here, we analyze the construction and politicization of the environmental problems created by the urban wastewater overflows in the area of the Vantaa River, Finland, between 2004 and 2015. The contradictory uses and values of the river as a wastewater channel and important recreational haven with widely acclaimed ecological values forms the context of this case study. We investigate what types of environmental problem are caused by urban wastewater overflows, how the various stakeholders define the problem, and possible solutions to it. The analysis is based on written materials produced by individuals associated with the problem, applying the method of content analysis. We identify various stages in the evolution of the problem and suggest ways in which cooperation between stakeholders can be enhanced to minimize environmental damage and social harm. These include formulating a common goal, improved mutual information sharing, realistic and clearly communicated plans for technological improvements, and a common understanding of the timescales used for the anticipated results.

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