Wednesday

26th Sep 2018

Visual Data

Europe's water quality falls short

  • Only 40 percent of rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters reach the ecologically acceptable standard outlined in the European directive on water (Photo: EUobserver)

Due to pollution, the majority of European rivers, lakes and estuaries fall below the minimum environmental standards, a report by the European Environment Agency reveals.

According to the latest report from the European Environment Agency (EEA) on water quality in Europe, only 40 percent of rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal waters reach the ecologically acceptable standard outlined in the European directive on water.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Adopted in 2000, the directive provides a framework for the evaluation, management and improvement of water resources in the EU.

It is intended to safeguard health, water supplies, ecosystems and biodiversity, and was supposed to oblige EU member states to reach satisfactory water quality standards by 2015.

The majority of countries, however, are still far from meeting those standards.

Globally, estuaries are the most polluted zones (less than 29 percent of their water is of "good" or "high" quality), while about half of lakes overall (49.5 percent) are of better ecological status.

While the share of surface waters with "good" or "high" status hasn't markedly changed in recent years (37 percent of the total), the number of those where the quality is unsatisfactory has risen from 48.5 percent to 59 percent, due in part to the increased number of streams and bodies of water evaluated.

Estonia, Slovakia and Romania form the trio of countries which lead the ranking for "good" or "high" status rivers, while Poland, Luxembourg and Germany are at the bottom of the ranking.

As far as lakes are concerned, it is in Austria, followed by Sweden and Estonia, where we find the highest number of "good" or "high" status water bodies, while the Netherlands, Poland again, and Romania, are at the bottom of the ranking.

The main pollutants present in surface waters are mercury, as well as residues from pesticides and wastewater treatment facilities.

The EEA nevertheless notes some improvements with regard to the presence of isolated polluting substances, which "shows that member states are making progress in tackling the sources of contamination."

When it comes to groundwater, the water quality is clearly higher on average (74 percent are, from the chemical perspective at least, of satisfactory quality).

The main source of pollution for groundwaters are nitrates and pesticides used in agriculture, as well as liquid discharges not connected to the sewer system, and abandoned industrial sites.

The main sources of ecological pressure on rivers and surface water bodies are, in order of importance: modifications in the morphology of rivers and lakes (40 percent of rivers and lakes affected); various sources of pollution arising from agriculture and precipitations (38 percent of rivers and water bodies affected); point source pollution (18 percent of rivers and surface water bodies affected), and extraction (seven percent of rivers and water bodies affected).

The report is based on measures taken by each country on 111,000 rivers and water bodies (80 percent are rivers; 16 percent are lakes, and 4 percent are estuaries or coastal waters), and 13,400 groundwaters between 2015 and 2018.

The European Data Journalism Network, EDJNet, is a platform for data-driven news on European affairs in up to 12 languages brought to you by a consortium of media and data journalists from all over Europe, which includes EUobserver

Visual Data

Top 100 European places where Dieselgate 'kills' most

In Europe, more than a third of those killed each year by toxic particulate matter - associated with unlawful diesel emissions exceeding the EU limits - live in about 100 conurbations, mainly in Italy, France, Germany, UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Spain.

Magazine

Copenhagen harbour swimming

Copenhagen harbour, like many of its kind, used to stink of oil and garbage. Now, people swim in canals around the parliament, passing shoals of fish and jellyfish.

Visual Data

Every major city in Europe is getting warmer

An exclusive analysis of over 100 million meteorological data points shows that every major city in Europe is warmer in the 21s​t​ century than it was in the 20t​h​. Northern regions, Andalusia and southern Romania are most affected.

News in Brief

  1. No UK election before Brexit, says May
  2. Former French PM wants to be mayor of Barcelona
  3. Merkel's wingman in surprise defeat in internal party vote
  4. Orban sends thank-you letters to supportive MEPs
  5. UN chief: World suffering from 'trust deficit disorder'
  6. Stalemate in Sweden as parliament ousts prime minister
  7. Migrant rescue ship heading to French port
  8. EU angry at British tabloids on Brexit

Opinion

No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Following the 2030 renewable target of 32 percent, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee Adina Valean argues in order to reach our climate and energy goals, we need both public and private investment over the next decade and beyond.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  2. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  5. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  6. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  7. IPHRCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  8. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  9. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  10. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  11. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow

Latest News

  1. World upside down as EU and Russia unite against US
  2. EU court delivers transparency blow on MEP expenses
  3. Russian with Malta passport in money-laundering probe
  4. Cyprus: Russia's EU weak link?
  5. Missing signature gaffe for Azerbaijan gas pipeline
  6. Every major city in Europe is getting warmer
  7. No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected
  8. Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  5. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  6. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  8. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  9. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  11. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us