Rådsdirektiv 91/676/EØF av 12. desember 1991 om beskyttelse av vann mot forurensning forårsaket av nitrater fra landbruket
BAKGRUNN (fra Kommisjonens faktaark, engelsk utgave)
The European Union has introduced a series of measures designed to reduce and prevent water pollution caused or induced by nitrates from agricultural sources. These measures include the requirement to identify polluted zones and zones which contribute to pollution, as well as to establish codes of good practice and action programmes.
This Directive (known as the "Nitrates Directive") is designed to protect the Community's waters against nitrates from agricultural sources, which are the main cause of water pollution from diffuse sources.
Member States must identify, on their territory:
* surface waters and groundwater affected or liable to be affected by pollution, in accordance with the procedure and criteria set out in the Directive (in particular when nitrate concentrations in groundwater or surface waters exceed 50 mg/l);
* vulnerable zones which contribute to pollution.
Member States must establish codes of good agricultural practice to be implemented by farmers on a voluntary basis, as defined in Annex II to the Directive.
Member States must establish and implement action programmes for vulnerable zones.
* to limit the application of any nitrogenous fertilisers to the soil;
* to set limits for the spreading of livestock manure.
The Directive authorises Member States to take additional measures or to reinforce their action programmes in order to achieve the objectives of the Directive.
Member States must monitor water quality, applying standardised reference methods to measure the nitrogen-compound content.
Provisions for adapting the Annexes to scientific and technical progress are also included.
Member States must report regularly to the Commission on the implementation of the Directive.
Water pollution by nitrates has been made worse by the introduction of intensive farming methods, with increased use of chemical fertilisers and higher concentrations of animals in smaller areas.
Nitrate pollution is causing problems in all Member States. The sources of nitrate pollution are diffuse (multiple discharges which are difficult to locate), and the main polluters - farms - are sensitive to anything which affects their economic viability.
The 1980s saw a progressive worsening of the situation (nitrate concentrations in water rose by an average of around 1 mg/l per year) owing to the growth of intensive livestock farming (chickens, pigs) in areas that were already saturated, and of intensive crop-growing involving the use of chemical weedkillers and overfertilisation.
The 1988 Frankfurt Ministerial Conference examined water protection legislation. The participants stressed that the legislation needed improving, and this resulted in the adoption of the Directive on urban waste water and the Nitrates Directive.
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