Personal tools


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Sound and independent information
on the environment

You are here: Home / The European environment — state and outlook 2015 / Country assessments / Poland / Freshwater - Drivers and pressures (Poland)

Freshwater - Drivers and pressures (Poland)

Common environmental themeexpired
Topics: ,
This content has been archived on 21 Mar 2015, reason: A new version has been published
SOER Common environmental theme from Poland
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 21 Mar 2015

Water quality in Poland depends to a great extent on the management of river basins. The smallest quantity of substances carried from river basins to surface water comes from forest areas, while the largest quantity comes from industrial and urban areas.

The quality of river water is affected most by improperly treated municipal and industrial sewage discharge and saline water discharged from coal mines.

Fig. 6: Industrial and municipal waste discharged into water or soil (Source: GUS)

Fig. 7: Municipal and industrial effluent requiring treatment discharged into water/ground (Source: GUS)

Farming and animal husbandry is still a source of pollution. Often farmland is directly adjacent to the edges of rivers or lakes and there is a lack of protective barriers in the form of trees and shrub belts along the river line. This exacerbates the run-off of agricultural pollution into the water. In 2009, the total land area used for agriculture in Poland was 189 800 km2, covering 60.7 % of the country.

In the economic year 2007/2008, consumption of mineral phosphate fertilisers in terms of P2O5 was 42.6 % higher than in 2004/2005, while the consumption of nitrogen fertilisers was 31 % higher. On average, over 28.6 kg of phosphate fertilisers and nearly 71 kg of nitrogen fertilisers were used per hectare of agricultural land in 2007/2008.

Fig. 8: Consumption of mineral fertilisers per hectare of agricultural land (Source: GUS)

The high concentration of industries, particularly along the upper parts of the Oder and Vistula rivers, has caused significant changes to topographic features and water courses. In the 1990s there was a marked decline in water abstraction. This was due to reduced production and restructuring in industry, and a gradual decrease in water consumption for irrigation and municipal management. Poland has made significant progress in reducing the impact of GDP growth on the abstraction of water.

Fig. 9: Water abstraction in Poland for the national economy and population in 1998-2008 by purpose (Source: GUS)

Biogenic pollution in minicipal waste water

According to the Helsinki Commission’s HELCOM (Helsinki Commission: PLC-5  report, the total nitrogen load from industry direct to surface water amounted to 5 311 tonnes in 2006, which was 38 % higher than in 2000. For phosphorus originating from industrial sources the total load amounted to 184 tonnes, a reduction of over50 % on 2000.

In 2006, the total nitrogen load from municipal sources to surface water was 34 053 tonnes, 10 % less than in 2000. The phosphorus load from municipal sources to surface water was 3 546 tonnes, almost 30 % less than in 2000. Small amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus were also discharged from fish farming centres.

Area pollution

According to the HELCOM PLC-5 report, the nitrogen load from area pollution sources amounted to 183 249 tonnes in 2006, which was 3 % less than in 2000. The phosphorus load from area pollution sources was 10 294 tonnes, which was over 22 % less than in 2000. Agriculture, and the application of mineral fertilisers and animal husbandry in particular, has the greatest impact on the volume of area loads.

Fig. 10: Balance of biogenic pollution in 2006 (source: HELCOM PLC-5)

Geographic coverage


The country assessments are the sole responsibility of the EEA member and cooperating countries supported by the EEA through guidance, translation and editing.

Sign up to receive our reports (print and/or electronic) and quarterly e-newsletter.
Follow us
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Kongens Nytorv 6
1050 Copenhagen K
Phone: +45 3336 7100