European Commission report shows falling nitrate levels in EU waters

A EUROPEAN Commission report published yesterday reveals that nitrate levels in waters across the EU are falling.

The report shows that the implementation of legislation to prevent nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters is proving effective.

However, in some regions, it said nitrate concentrations exceed EU water quality standards and farmers need to continue to adopt more sustainable practices.

Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik said safeguarding water quality is a top priority for policy.

“Farmers have worked hard to improve fertilisation management, which is now yielding benefits and improving water quality trends.

“However, in some regions, meeting EU water quality standards remains a serious and continuing challenge,” he said

Mr Potocnik said the agricultural use of nitrates in organic and chemical fertilisers has been a major source of water pollution in Europe.

The report reveals a number of regions, which do not include Ireland, where it says nitrate levels are worrying. It also lists a number of EU member states including Ireland which have applied specific action programmes.

IFA Environment Committee chairman Pat Farrell said the report proves farmers are playing their part in safeguarding water quality.

The findings underline the impact of the €3 billion investment by 34,000 farmers in Ireland to improve storage and enhance water quality under the Farm Waste Management Scheme.

Mr Farrell said recognition must be given in the forthcoming nitrates action programme to the efforts of the farming community by reviewing the rigid dates around the spreading of farm nutrients.


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