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Trend Reversal in Groundwater Pollution

2020 - 2021

Ongoing

Project description and aims

Art. 4 of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) obliges Member States, among other things, to protect, enhance and restore all bodies of groundwater with the aim of achieving good groundwater status by December 2015, and to implement the measures necessary to reverse any significant and sustained upward trend in the concentration of pollutants. In actual fact, however, 25 % of ground water bodies in the EU (and e.g. 36 % in Germany) were chemically in a poor status in 2015, mostly due to pollution with nitrates and pesticides from agriculture. Moreover, according to an EEA report of 2018, the total groundwater body area with an identified upward trend of pollution is still nearly double the area with a trend reversal (9.9 % against 5.9 % of area).

There is thus a serious implementation deficit in the EU regarding groundwater protection, and only a few Member States can show some success with achieving a trend reversal. Some MS over the last years, most recently Germany in June 2018, were held by the ECJ to be in breach of their obligations under the Nitrates Directive by not taking the necessary additional measures or reinforced actions for reducing water pollution when it became apparent that the National Action Programme was not sufficient.

The project aims to reduce this implementation deficit by looking at possible instruments and best practices at administrative level, especially of regional and local water authorities.

Related files/information

  • Dir. 2000/60/EC = Water Framework Directive (Art. 4.1.b.iii)
  • Dir. 91/676/EEC = Nitrates Directive
  • Dir. 2006/118/EC = Groundwater Directive

Number: 2021/08-WP5, 2020/11 – Status: Ongoing – Period: 2020 - 2021 – Topic: Water and land - Tags: -

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