Too much nitrate in drinking water
Stricter fertilizer rules demanded
The waterworks have more and more difficulty to comply with the prescribed nitrate limits, because the farmers fertilize more and more, reports the ARD broadcast „Report Mainz“. In the article, the President of the Federal Environment Agency, Jochen Flasbarth, is quoted as saying: „The Federal Environment Agency strongly recommends that the Fertilizer Ordinance be specified and tightened.“ Stricter fertilizer rules are unavoidable in the opinion of all the experts cited, but according to the statements of the Federal Minister of Agriculture, Ilse Aigner (CSU), these will presumably be some time in coming.
High nitrate levels in groundwater are a major problem in the long run, as drinking water is also affected. This may pose a significant risk to humans, as high levels of nitrate can cause cancer. Not without reason, a maximum limit of 50 milligrams per liter applies here. But by the nitrate entry on slurry from factory farming and digestate from biogas plants, the values would be driven upwards, and the waterworks would have considerable difficulty to comply with the limits, reports „Report Mainz“. Somewhat provocatively formulated Alfons Baier, geologist of the university Erlangen, in the current contribution that in some „Regions in northern Bavaria that can use groundwater directly for fertilizing the fields. So much of fertilizer, of manure ingredients is in there.“
EU Commission calls for lowering of nitrate levels
Not only the Federal Environmental Agency advocates stricter fertilizer rules, but also the EU Commission in Brussels makes loud „Report Mainz“ massive pressure. The transmitter had an internal letter from the environmental commission, in which the authority „continues to be concerned about the development of water quality in Germany“ shows and calls for the fastest possible reduction in nitrate levels. How serious the problem is now, is clear from the statement of the President of the Federal Environment Agency. „One quarter of the groundwater in Germany has too high nitrate levels“, reports Flasbarth. In regions with high livestock densities, the situation is particularly worrying. „And in recent years, the additional burden comes from biogas plants or the associated corn production“ added Flasbarth on. Therefore, it is important in a recast of the Fertilizers Regulation, „that we also include the digestate in the fertilizer balance“, which is not the case right now.
New fertilizer regulation not yet in sight
As a representative of the waterworks, the article cites, among others, Manfred Kraheberger of the Wasserzweckverband Rottenburger Gruppe, who emphasizes how alarming the situation is currently. „You can read that wonderfully, it increases from year to year by a milligram. We are close to the limit. It is to be expected that the nitrate limit can not be met at some point“, so Kraheberger opposite „Report Mainz“. The responsibility for a new fertilizer ordinance lies with the Federal Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner. But their statement that right now is working on the whole fertilizer ordinance and this is a normal process, which can usually take several years, can not hope for a quick solution to the problem here. So it remains to be feared that the groundwater will continue to pollute and eventually the quality of the drinking water will suffer. (Fp)
Picture credits: Marianne J.