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Parliamentary questions
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6 January 2020
Question for written answer
to the Commission
Rule 138
David McAllister
 Answer in writing 
 Subject: Groundwater nitrate levels

The Nitrates Directive (1991) aims to maintain a high level of water quality in Europe in the long term by protecting groundwater and surface water from nitrate contamination from agricultural sources and promoting good agricultural practice.

Cattle, pigs and other farmed animals on German farms produce an estimated 300 million tonnes of urine and faeces every year. A large proportion of this is in the form of slurry, which fields and meadows cannot absorb in unlimited quantities. What cannot be taken up by plants sooner or later enters the groundwater and pollutes it, for example in the form of nitrate.

How will the Commission ensure that farms, particularly in areas where the groundwater has high nitrate levels, receive support for the disposal of slurry so that it is not spread on the fields?

Is there a strategy for improving the harmonisation between agricultural activity and nature / water protection?

In addition, is the Commission planning to revise the EU Nitrates Directive, setting up a single, EU-wide network of monitoring stations to determine groundwater nitrate levels and taking into account external conditions and different ways of entering information?

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