Home Sciences This is the map of nitrate pollution in Spain

This is the map of nitrate pollution in Spain


The information about the water polluted by high concentration of nitrates -and even eutrophicated– It can now be seen on a map that the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge (Miteco) has just made public on its website. It is a pollution caused mainly by livestock and industrial agriculture.

The cartography, which can be found on the Miteco geoportal, and by typing the word ‘nitrates’ in the tool by layers, shows the monitoring stations whose waters have a concentration in nitrates higher than the limits of condition established in the aforementioned standard, as well as those that have been defined as eutrophic.

Eutrophication is a phenomenon that occurs in aquatic ecosystems where there is an excess of inorganic nutrients from human activities, such as agriculture, which favor the uncontrolled proliferation of algae and can deplete the oxygen in the water (causing anoxia), which in turn is the cause of the death of fish and other organisms.

The points indicated in blue are lakes or reservoirs affected by nitrates, while the others correspond to groundwater contaminated to a greater or lesser degree for the same reason.

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As can be seen on the map, the most affected areas are almost the entire Ebro river, the autonomous community of Catalonia, the province of Valencia, Castilla y León and, on the islands, Mallorca and Gran Canaria. However, the rest of the country is dotted with points where there is an excess of nitrates.

Coincidence with industrial livestock areas

It so happens that these areas largely coincide with the distribution of industrial livestock farms, areas that are traditionally associated with the production of nitrates, which are not always adequately eliminated.

According to Miteco, the map has been prepared based on the information notified to the European Union (EU) at the end of 2020, in application of Directive 91/676/CEE of the Council, of December 12, 1991, regarding the protection of waters against contamination produced by nitrates used in agriculture and referred to the four-year period 2016-2019.

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With this geoportal update begins the period in which the autonomous communities must review the delimitation of declared vulnerable areas and propose the corresponding action plans to deal with this type of pollution, proposals that must meet the environmental objectives set by the Water Framework Directive, recalls the Miteco.

“The simplification of all these procedures, the alignment of objectives with the new hydrological planning and the coordinated action of the competent authorities” will have to solve the “serious problem caused by this pollution in Spain,” he stresses in a statement.

Teresa Ribera’s ministry also hopes that the publication of the data and visualization on the map will contribute to a “favorable resolution” in the infringement procedure that the European Commission has opened against Spain for failing to comply with the Nitrates Directive, a process that is currently in the opinion phase; the stage prior to filing a claim with the Court of Justice.

Environment section contact: crisisclimatica@prensaiberica.es

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