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Water resources protection vis-a-vis agricultural impacts

Over the last fifteen to twenty years,

non point source pollution has beco-

me a growing concern for water

resources managers. In Europe, parti-

cular attention has been paid to the

spread over large areas of increasin-

gly concentrated nitrate pollution,

often approaching and sometimes

exceeding the 50 mg/l maximum

permitted level of drinking water

standards. This prompted strengthe-

ning of existing legislation with the

introduction in 1991 of the European

Nitrate Directive. France has been

implementing this directive for seve-

ral years now.

As a pre-requisite to becoming full

members of the European Union,

several eastern European countries

had to upgrade their own legislation,

and in some cases change practices

to meet European standards, parti-

cularly with respect to the environ-


help accelerate this process,

the European Commission set up

twinning programmes to transfer

experience and know how from

Western Europe experts to their

counterparts in Eastern Europe.

In 2003 and 2004, BRGM was invol-

ved in a twinning project in Poland to

help implement the Nitrate Directive,

along with the British Environment

Agency and the Northern Ireland

Public Sector Enterprises, and the

Polish Ministry of Environment.

BRGM's assignment consisted of pro-

viding assistance, training and capa-

city building for monitoring net-

works, sampling techniques, setting

up vulnerable zones to nitrate pollu-

tion,data assessment,database fede-

rating methodologies, and isotope

techniques to determine the origin of

nitrate pollution (agriculture, stock

breeding, urban, industry, ...). It also

helped to set up a nitrogen isotope

analysis laboratory facility.

Water table pollution from abandoned mines,

and the subsequent rise in water level

In both opencast and undergroundmines,extraction of

oil shale requires intensive pumping to avoid flooding

the work face or the excavation floor.Within the exploi-

tation time delay of a site, the water pumped is equiva-

lent to twenty-five times the volume of shale extracted.

In other sectors where the seams have been worked

out and mining has ceased, there is a phenomenon

similar to that seen in the iron ore mines of Lorraine

-- in Estonia, the rise in the water table that occurs

after a mine is no longer pumped leads to dissolving

of sulphates.

international cooperation

Measures aimed at halting pollution caused

by oil shale

To comply with European standards, most storage

sites for oil shale mining waste in Estonia will have to

be closed down or adapted in the coming years.

Noting this undertaking, the European Union granted

Estonia, during the preparation of its accession treaty,

a considerable transition phase during which to apply

progressively European directives:

> Estonia has been given five years to reduce by ten the

quantity of oil shale ash dumped.Thismust be reduced

to 350,000 tonnes per year by 31 December 2008.



• numéro 2 • septembre 2005

Surface water polluted with phenols in

the Kohtla-Järve area (Estonia).

Ecoulement dans un fossé provenant de

terrils de cendres de schistes bitumineux de

Kohtla-Järve, dans le bassin de la rivière

Purtse (pollution aux phénols) (Estonia).

Source :Valdur Pärtna