Nitrogen, pesticides and fertilisers
Nitrogen and pesticide pollution are important and persistent threats to drinking water resources throughout Europe. Although measures have led to a steady reduction in concentrations in rivers and in groundwater, persistent hot spot areas (with levels stagnate above the set standards) remain at the regional level. Despite the increased integration of policies to deliver clean and safe drinking water over the past decades, there is clearly a need to increase the engagement of interdependent actors and stakeholders.
7 Action Labs
The WaterProtect project is centred around so called Action Labs in 7 EU Member States (Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Romania and Spain). In each of the seven Action Labs, water pollution (nutrients and/or pesticides) from intensive agriculture is prevalent and may affect the quality of the water for drinking water production.
WaterProtect adopted a multi-actor approach to ensure a close cooperation between local farmers, conservationists, water producers, researchers and agricultural ministries or water management agencies. The cooperation is aimed to attract alternative financing for effective measures that reduce the risks of pollution and the costs of treatment of the raw water.
Upscaling to EU-level
Research in WaterProtect and other resources show that current practices need to change. Water quality objectives of the Water Framework Directive will most probably not be met within schedule and effects of current practices seem to be irreversible. WaterProtect shows a multi-stakeholder cooperation is an effective tool to turn the tide.
Nevertheless, the WaterProtect approach also shows regional differences need to be respected. The bottom up introduction of multi-stakeholder cooperation will be able to address the regional differences, while creating the opportunity to celebrate the local effects of their joint efforts at the same time. European legislative ruling alone will not enforce the ownership that is needed to make the change.
on the project and its outcomes can be found on the the WaterProtect website.