Nitrogen concentrations in rivers
Assessment made on 01 Jan 2001
ClassificationWater (Primary theme)
Policy issue: Are nitrate concentrations in our rivers falling?
Total Oxidised Nitrogen (TON) levels in Europe's rivers have not fallen since 1990, with the smallest rivers showing the highest concentrations.
No progress has been made in reducing the concentration of nitrates in Europe's rivers, with levels remaining stable for all types of rivers throughout the 1990s.
The smaller the river, the higher the concentration, with levels in small rivers reaching and often exceeding the 5.6 mg/l guidelines set by the European Directive on Surface Water for Drinking. This probably reflects the impact of agriculture:
- the data show that Denmark, a country with intensive agriculture and only small rivers, has the highest river nitrate levels;
- data from five countries on river nitrate levels and agricultural land use in the rivers' catchment areas show a direct link, with small rivers in most agricultural catchment areas showing median concentrations above the Directive's limit.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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