05/03/2013, Berlin

BDEW: the fertiliser act and fertiliser ordinance in the German Bundesrat:

Water protection: finally transpose EU provisions on nitrates completely into German law

BDEW: limitation of nutrient content of all organic fertilisers urgently required

The German Association of Energy and Water Industries (Bundesverband der Energie- und Wasserwirtschaft - BDEW) welcomes the motions tables in the Bundesrat (German upper house) today by the Länder Schleswig-Holstein and North Rhine-Westphalia on the draft act to amend the German Fertiliser Act and the draft ordinance to amend the German Fertiliser Ordinance. In light of the fact that the nitrate content in the groundwater has, in some cases, greatly increased locally in agricultural processing regions, the water industry believes that the regulation to limit the nutrient content for all organic fertiliser, as proposed by the two Länder, is urgently needed. “The 2011 report on nitrate levels revealed that nitrate concentrations in the groundwater in 28 percent of areas tested in Lower Saxony exceeded the groundwater values permitted in the European Union and in Germany. Water providers are thus only able at great cost to comply with the relevant limit values when producing and purifying drinking water in these regions”, said Martin Weyand, General Executive Manager Water /Wastewater, in Berlin today.

According to Weyand, “The water industry demands that the German Fertiliser Ordinance and the German Fertiliser Act are finally amended to reflect the current state of scientific knowledge in order to avoid the additional enrichment of nitrates from agricultural sources.” Weyand also mentioned that the European Commission is concerned about the development of the water quality in Germany. The Commission demanded that the action programme for the protection of waters be revised so that it fully complies with the EU Nitrates Directive. As far as the supply of nutrients is concerned, the Commission believes that all available sources of nitrogen should be taken into account. Up until now, however, the German Fertiliser Ordinance has not covered all fertiliser levels. The Fertiliser Ordinance was also criticised by the Commission due to an insufficient provision of periods when fertilisation is prohibited which leads to a risk of leaching or washing over into bodies of water. Further criticisms are that the prescribed storage capacities for fertiliser are apparently insufficient and that there is a complete lack of any provisions on leak proofing measures or minimum distances to bodies of water or of a prohibition for using fertiliser on sloped areas. “The EU Nitrates Directive must finally be completely transposed into the agricultural law. Only in this way will it be possible to comply with the provisions of the EU Water Framework Directive.” Weyand concluded by commenting that the directive stipulates that a deterioration of the groundwater must be avoided.

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Jan Ulland
Pressesprecher / Press Spokesman
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