Freshwater - Drivers and pressures (Poland)
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.
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.
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.
Biogenic pollution in minicipal waste water
According to the Helsinki Commission’s HELCOM (Helsinki Commission: http://www.helcom.fi/home) 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.
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.
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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