Mixed results for nitrate compliance

SEVERAL countries must further improve their compliance with the Nitrates Directive, said EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik, when he issued information on nitrate levels in water in the 2004-2007 period submitted by member states.

He said nitrate levels were still too high in groundwater in England, parts of Estonia, the south-east Netherlands, Flanders in Belgium, Brittany in France, northern Italy, north-east Spain, south-east Slovakia, southern Romania, and parts of Malta and Cyprus.

Results for Ireland were mixed. Along with Belgium, France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Italy and Britain, Ireland had rising nitrates in groundwater at more than 30% of monitoring stations. And Ireland was the only member state of the eight where quality was not improving at a similar or higher percentages of monitoring stations.

Compared to the previous reporting period, across the EU, nitrates in groundwater were stable at 36% of monitoring stations, and decreasing at 30%. However, 34% of the stations had rising nitrate contamination. Ireland also had an increasing share of stations with more than 50 mg of nitrate per litre of groundwater – as did Belgium, Denmark, Greece, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

But Ireland was one of several states along with Austria, Germany, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Portugal and Sweden) with no surface water values to be found above 50 mg per litre. Across the EU, nitrate levels are checked at 31,000 groundwater monitoring and sampling sites, and 27,000 surface water stations.


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