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Wednesday, June 19, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Polish Water Issues Need a Look, Lawmakers Say

(CN) - Poland should be penalized for failing to guarantee that it is addressing nitrate-tainted water, the European Commission said Thursday, referring its charges to the Court of Justice.

EU regulators contend that Poland has not done enough to comply with stringent and long-standing regulations pertaining to pollution by nitrates.

Its failures include not designating a sufficient number of zones that are vulnerable to nitrates pollution and failing to adopt measures that effectively combat such pollution, the commission said in a statement.

Though Nitrates are essential for plants to grow, and are widely used as fertilizers, excess levels have been shown to cause severe environmental damage.

The EU Nitrates Directive aims to protect water quality across Europe by promoting environmentally sensitive farming practices and preventing nitrates use in agricultural settings from leaching into ground water or running off into rivers, streams and lakes.

Under the directive, EU member states must designate areas that are vulnerable to such pollution and adopt measures to either prevent or substantially reduce it.

To date, only a small portion of Polish territory has been so designated. The commission considers the situation critical because almost all of Poland's waters drain into the significantly polluted Baltic Sea.

"International data indicates that the Polish contribution to the overall nitrogen load in the Baltic Sea is significant, and hat most of it comes from agriculture," the commission said in a statement. "Only a very small part of the Polish territory, however, has been designated as nitrate vulnerable zones."

At the same time, legislation and action plans adopted for the few designated zones that have been created in Poland lack precision and have numerous shortcomings, including inadequate closed period and insufficient limitations for manure and fertilizer application, the commission said.

The commission said it sent notice of its findings to the Polish government is November 2011, but progress on rectifying the situation has been slow since then.

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