The water in Dutch nature areas and natural recreation sites is often polluted with toxic pesticides. The environmental standards are not being met in four out of every ten water locations within these areas, according to research by the Leiden University environmental sciences center CML.
The polluted water poses risks to both nature and animal health. Environment organization Natuur & Milieu called the results of the study “alarming” and fears “major ecological damage.”
In lower concentrations, which fall within the standard, harmful pesticides are present in as many as 80 percent of the 153 areas studied. A number of substances sometimes appear in concentrations of up to 100 times the standard.
The study specifically looked at pesticides that the European Union wants to get rid of as soon as a less harmful alternative has been developed. These substances are still legal now, and they are widely used in different sectors, including agriculture.
Among them is glyphosate, the much-discussed substance which is believed to be carcinogenic. The investigation showed that substance is present in about half of the waters studied.
The research indicates that there has been no progress in combating water pollution with toxic substances in recent years. According to this study, the excess presence of toxic substances has not decreased in ten years. Berthe Brouwer, who leads pesticide policy at Natuur & Milieu, finds it worrying. “The Netherlands is a major consumer of agricultural poisons and you can see the sad consequences of this in the water,” she said. “Animals and plants get sick and die.”
The Netherlands will have to work hard in the coming years to comply with the European Water Framework Directive. By 2027 at the latest, all EU countries must meet the targets set out in that directive. Various publications have already shown that the Netherlands is now far from meeting these requirements. Natuur & Milieu believes that the Cabinet must therefore act quickly and tighten the rules for the use of pesticides.
This can have major consequences, according to environmental organizations, an assertion supported by other groups, including the Council for the Environment and Infrastructure (Rli). This important advisory body warned the Cabinet and the Tweede Kamer in May that the goals will not be achieved with the current policy. According to the Council, this could cause numerous economic activities to come to a standstill, comparable to what happened earlier with the nitrogen emissions dossier.