Too much nitrate in the drinking water

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Stricter fertilizer rules required

The waterworks have increasing difficulties to comply with the prescribed nitrate limit values ​​because farmers fertilize more and more, reports the ARD program "Report Mainz". In the article, the President of the Federal Environment Agency, Jochen Flasbarth, is quoted as saying: "The Federal Environment Agency urgently recommends that the fertilizer regulation be clarified and tightened." In the opinion of all experts cited, stricter fertilizer rules are inevitable, but they will According to statements by the Federal Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner (CSU), it will probably take some time.

High levels of nitrate in groundwater are a long-term problem because drinking water is also affected. Under certain circumstances, this can pose a considerable risk to humans, since high nitrate concentrations can trigger cancer. It is not without reason that there is a maximum limit of 50 milligrams per liter. However, the nitrate entry on liquid manure from livestock farming and digestate from biogas plants would push the values ​​upwards and the waterworks would have considerable difficulties in complying with the limit values, reports Report Mainz. Alfons Baier, geologist at the University of Erlangen, puts it somewhat provocatively in the current article that in some “regions in northern Bavaria, groundwater can be used directly for fertilizing the fields. There is so much fertilizer and liquid manure in it. ”

EU Commission calls for a reduction in nitrate levels
Not only is the Federal Environment Agency advocating stricter fertilizer rules, but the EU Commission in Brussels is also putting massive pressure on, according to the “Report Mainz”. The broadcaster received an internal letter from the environmental commission, in which the authority "continues to be concerned about the development of water quality in Germany" and calls for the nitrate levels to be reduced as quickly as possible. The President of the Federal Environment Agency's statement shows how serious the problem is now. "A quarter of the groundwater in Germany has excessively high nitrate levels," reports Flasbarth. The situation is particularly worrying in regions with high livestock density. "And in recent years, there has also been an additional burden from biogas plants and the associated maize cultivation," Flasbarth added. It is therefore important in a new version of the fertilizer regulation "that we also include the digestate in the fertilizer balance", which is not the case at the moment.

No new fertilizer regulation in sight
As a representative of the waterworks, Manfred Kraheberger from the Water Purpose Association Rottenburger Group is quoted in the article, who emphasizes how alarming the situation is at the moment. “You can see that wonderfully, it increases by one milligram from year to year. We are close to the limit. It is to be expected that the nitrate limit will eventually not be met, ”Kraheberger told“ Report Mainz ”. The Federal Minister of Agriculture Ilse Aigner is responsible for a new fertilizer regulation. However, their statement that the entire fertilizer regulation is currently being worked on and that this is a normal process, which can usually take several years, does not give hope for a quick solution to the problem here. It remains to be feared that the groundwater will continue to contaminate and ultimately the quality of the drinking water will also suffer. (fp)

Photo credit: Marianne J. /

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