Scientific Support for the Implementation of the Nitrates Directive (Directive 91/676/EEC)

In the EU, agriculture accounts for around 33% of water use and is the main source of nutrient pollution in water. The overloading of surface and groundwater with nutrients results in unbalanced ecosystems, changed chemical composition of the water and eutrophication. The water can become unsafe to drink and unsuitable for other uses such as irrigation, recreational purposes or fish farming. At European level, the Nitrates Directive is the key instruments to protect surface waters and groundwater against pollution by nitrates from agricultural sources. For the next three years, Milieu will support the Belgian Soil Service in assisting DG Environment in effectively enforcing the Nitrates Directive. The project team will provide scientific and technical advice on issues linked to the Nitrates Directive and the sustainable use and management of nutrients as well as update and maintain a web-based repository of Member States’ Action Programmes.