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5.2.         Data collection on chemicals in water at EU level

Significant effort goes into reporting into the European system and then in making that information available. In the light of Peter Drucker’s observation, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t change it”, we reviewed what was available for key chemical pollutants.

5.2.1.     Data on chemical status and priority substances
Monitoring obligations need to balance costs of resources to undertake them, with the value of the knowledge gained and application of that knowledge. Collecting data which have no application is not only wasted effort, it may mean that an opportunity is missed to gather information which would be used to inform measures.

What should be a priority substance? A working basis for a “European level pollutant” is provided by the prioritisation process, which considers a substance to be of European concern if it exceeds proposed EQS in 4 or more Member States (JRC, 2016). Following reporting of the second River Basin Management Plans, the continuing relevance of a priority substance can be considered. (table 5.1).

Table 5.1: Priority substances which exceed EQS in less than 15 (out of 111 105) surface water bodies and 4 or fewer Member States

Source: https://tableau.discomap.eea.europa.eu/t/Wateronline/views/WISE_SOW_PrioritySubstance/SWB_SWPrioritySubstance_Europe?:embed=y&:display_count=no&:showVizHome=no (29 Aug 2018)

Preliminary results based on WISE-SoW database) including data from 25 Member States (EU28 except Greece, Ireland and Lithuania).

The very low numbers of water bodies failing for these substances suggest that, assuming monitoring and reporting are accurate, measures have been effective in preventing the entry of these chemicals into surface waters. This is a success for European water and chemicals policies.

With such low numbers of water bodies failing to achieve good status for these substances, they may be candidates for delisting as priority substances, freeing up resources for monitoring of substances now presenting more of a risk to the quality of European waters.

Previous comments

  • anderas0 (├ůsa Andersson) 28 Sep 2018 22:22:23

    Correct if the EQS is protective in line with the aims of the framework. For some PS EQSs are based on rather old data evaluations. For example, for Chloroalkanes the EQS is based on data from a RAR published 1999. For human health, EFSA is working on an assessment at the moment.

  • ritvamar (Maria Szomolanyi Ritvayne) 01 Oct 2018 15:54:43

    The situation of the listed compounds is the same in Hungary as in almost everywhere in the EU. These substances were not found in surface waters or if it was sporadically found, the concentration was well below the EQSs. For ground water the situation is different, mainly for solvents and pesticides.

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