Irish phosphorus surplus among the worst in the EU
An EU report has warned of excess phosphorus in Irish soils and ‘hot spots’ where nitrate concentrations are rising are expected to be the main areas Ireland should address in its action program on nitrates.
The quality of groundwater in Ireland is generally good and improving at some monitoring stations, according to the recently released report by the European Commission on Protecting Water Against Agricultural Pollution, for the period 2016-2019.
He said Irish surface waters have “low” nitrate concentrations, while the number of eutrophic waters remains limited.
Eutrophication, which is the excessive enrichment of water with nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus, is a widespread problem in Europe.
The report reveals that almost all surface water is eutrophic in northern Belgium (Flanders). There are also problems with high nitrate water prevalent throughout the EU.
However, he noted that the excess (produced in soil minus inputs) in Ireland is roughly at the EU average for nitrogen, while the excess phosphorus is among the highest in the world. ‘EU.
The report says there have been encouraging signs, with improved water quality in 152 of the 726 priority water bodies for the 2018-21 River Basin Management Plan.
This has been attributed to the positive efforts of local authorities, other government agencies, local communities and landowners.
Experts from the European Commission have said that there is a relationship between Ireland’s agricultural intensity and nitrate concentrations in waters, but that there is variability in water quality within and between the sub-basins.
Soils, weather conditions and agricultural practices have a significant influence on nitrates, which has important implications for selecting the right measures in the right place at the right time.
New information on Irish water quality was released last July in the Environmental Protection Agency’s Water Quality Indicators report, Dr Eimear Cotter of the EPA stating: âThe quality of our water is currently threatened by nitrogen pollution from agriculture, causing particular pressure in parts of the south, southeast and east of the country.
âRivers such as Bandon, Lee, Blackwater, Suir, Nore, Barrow and Slaney have excessively high nitrogen levels, with important implications for the marine environments into which they flow.
Just over half of Ireland’s rivers and lakes are of satisfactory biological quality, according to the EPA report, and in 2019 and 2020, 345 rivers showed improvement in quality, while 230 showed improvement in quality. decreased in quality.
There was a marked overall improvement in the biological quality of the rivers monitored in 2019 and 2020.
However, it is clear from the EU report that most Member States have poorer quality water than Ireland.
Austria has good quality groundwater, but with âhot spotsâ.
The quality of Belgian groundwater is “bad”, especially in Flanders, where the nitrate concentration is increasing sharply and where almost all surface water is eutrophic. The quality of water in Wallonia is better than the EU average. The Commission urged Flanders to take additional measures appropriate to the severity of the problems and to help farmers switch to more resilient and less intensive production.
The quality of groundwater in Bulgaria is generally good, but with hot spots rich in nitrates.
The quality of Croatia’s groundwater is generally good, but a large number of surface waters are eutrophic.
The quality of groundwater is generally good in Cyprus, but with hot spots rich in nitrates. The surface waters are good.
The Czech Republic has a large number of groundwater hotspots rich in nitrates, and a very large number of surface water is eutrophic.
Denmark’s groundwater is generally good, but pollution is increasing at a large number of monitoring points. A very large number of surface waters are eutrophic.
Groundwater in Poland behaves similarly, with a few hot spots with high nitrate content and a very large number of eutrophic, inland and marine surface waters.
The quality of groundwater in Estonia is generally good, but many surface waters are eutrophic.
The situation was similar across the Baltic Sea in neighboring Finland, where groundwater is good, but eutrophication is recorded for 83% of surface and marine water monitoring stations. The Commission recommends that Finland tackle eutrophication problems where agricultural pressure is high.
Similar recommendations were made for Lithuania.
The water table is average in France, with many historic (Brittany, center-west) and new (north, north-east) hot spots. The eutrophication of marine waters is an issue on the north coast of Brittany.
Greece has hot spots rich in nitrates and a large number of eutrophic surface waters.
The quality of groundwater in Hungary is generally good, with a few hot spots rich in nitrates and a very high number of eutrophic surface waters.
Groundwater in Italy and Slovakia is generally good, with hot spots rich in nitrates and a large number of eutrophic waters.
Latvia has a very high number of eutrophic surface waters, affecting inland and marine waters.
Luxembourg has numerous monitoring stations for groundwater with a high nitrate content and a very large number of eutrophic surface waters.
The Netherlands has hot spots of groundwater rich in nitrates and a very large number of eutrophic surface waters. The Commission recommends that the Netherlands help farmers to switch to more sustainable and less intensive production.
Spain, Portugal and Romania have many hot spots of nitrate-rich groundwater and many eutrophic surface waters.
Sweden’s groundwater is generally very good, but some monitoring stations show eutrophication.