Compared to the situation before the adoption of the EU Nitrates Directive in 1991, nitrate concentrations in both surface and groundwater have decreased, the European Commission said. They added that Member States need to take stronger action against nitrate pollution of waters, mainly from agriculture.
According to a report by the EU Commission, 14.1% of groundwater in the Member States exceeded the nitrate concentration limit for drinking water in the period 2016-2019. In the EU, 81% of seawater, 31% of coastal seawater, 36% of rivers and 32% of lakes are eutrophic, ie prone to algae.
Excessive nitrate in water is detrimental to both human health and ecosystems, as it causes oxygen depletion and eutrophication. Where waters have been purified, drinking water supplies have improved and biodiversity has become richer, and there have been positive changes in biodiversity-dependent sectors such as fisheries and tourism. However, over-fertilization remains a problem.
The EU commission added in a statement that it would take steps to make Member States more compliant with the Nitrates Directive, which is essential to meeting the European Green Agreement’s goal of reducing nutrient losses by at least 50% by 2030.
Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Poland, Latvia, Luxembourg, Hungary, Malta, Germany and Spain face the greatest challenges in addressing nutrient pollution from agriculture. In addition, there are areas in Bulgaria, Cyprus, Estonia, France, Italy, Portugal and Romania where pollution needs to be reduced urgently, MTI reported.