Groundwater nitrate problem and countermeasures in strongly affected EU countries - a comparison between Germany, Denmark and Ireland

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Ortmeyer, Felix
Hansen, Birgitte
Banning, Andre
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Springer Nature Switzerland AG
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Water resources protection co-occurring with intensive agriculture brings major challenges in Europe including groundwater contamination with nitrate (NO3-). Due to non-compliance with the EU Nitrates Directive, some intensively agricultural member states have been penalized by European jurisdiction, putting them under great pressure to reduce groundwater NO3- concentrations. This review summarizes the situation of groundwater NO3- pollution in Germany, Denmark and Ireland, critically compares the measures taken to improve it, and identifies potentials for improvement and mutual learning. Denmark is often considered a leader in the field with the NO3- countermeasures program being continuously developed since 1985. However, impacts on agriculture productivity and crop quality are evident. Ireland also considers NO3- one of the most serious water quality problems, but differs in hydrogeological setting and drinking water management. Climate change is expected to massively aggravate challenges to all affected countries by causing scarcity of water resources and increasing the pressure on water quality.
Groundwater , Nitrate pollution , Nitrate measures , Agriculture , Climate change
Ortmeyer, F., Hansen, B. and Banning, A. (2022) 'Groundwater nitrate problem and countermeasures in strongly affected EU countries-a comparison between Germany, Denmark and Ireland', Grundwasser. doi: 10.1007/s00767-022-00530-5
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© 2022, the Authors, under exclusive licence to Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Grundwasser. The final authenticated version is available online at: