EU Member States have made marked efforts to improve water quality, by improving wastewater treatment and lowering the runoff of pollutants from farmland, according to the EEA report European waters — assessment of status and pressures 2018. Measures have also been taken to make barriers passable to migrating fish and restore degraded aquatic ecosystems.
While Europe’s ground water bodies, like aquifers, are in good health in most cases, only 40% of monitored lakes, rivers, estuaries and coastal waters achieved theminimum ‘good’ or ‘high’ ecological status during the 2010-2015 monitoring period, according to the report. The last EEA assessment in 2012 found a similar level of water bodies meeting ‘good’ or ‘high’ ecological status. The EEA assessment also looked at the quantitative state and over-abstraction of Europe’s groundwater and the overall chemical status of water bodies.
The EEA report gives an updated health check on over 130,000 surface and groundwater bodies monitored by EU Member States, based on the data collected and reported from more than 160 so-calledcovering the period 2010 to 2015.
‘Thanks to the implementation of European water legislation in the Member States, the quality of Europe’s freshwater is gradually improving, but much more needs to be done before all lakes, rivers, coastal waters and groundwater bodies are in good status. Tackling pollution from agriculture, industry and households requires joint efforts from all water users throughout Europe,’ said Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries.
‘We must increase efforts to ensure our waters are as clean and resilient as they should be — our own well-being and the health of our vital water and marine ecosystems depend on it. This is critical to the long-term sustainability of our waters and in meeting our long-term goals of living well within the limits of our planet,’ said Hans Bruyninckx, EEA Executive Director.
The EEA water assessment is the second since 2012. Knowledge of Europe’s waters has grown significantly since then, providing a better understanding of the status, the problems that lead to failure in achieving ‘good status’ and the measures implemented to generate improvement. The EEA report complements a forthcoming European Commission report, which will assess to what extent the Member States comply with the Water Framework Directive. This Directive sets out a framework on how to assess, manage, protect and improve water quality across the EU. It requires Member States to produce River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) as well as a Programme of Measures to improve water quality.