Ministry for Ecological Transition publishes map of waters affected by nitrate contamination

El MITECO hace público el mapa de aguas afectadas por contaminación por nitratos

Any citizen can access the information published through the geoportal and the electronic pages of the Ministry for Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge.

This measure serves as a reference for the Autonomous Communities to review the areas declared as vulnerable to this type of contamination.

The Spanish Official State Gazette has published the resolution of the General Directorate of Water of 9 May 2022, making public the map of waters affected by diffuse pollution, in application of recently passed Royal Decree 47/2022, of 18 January, on the protection of waters against diffuse pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources.

The map is now available to the public on the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge (MITECO) website. The digital map, which can be viewed through the Ministry’s geoportal, contains the location of the monitoring stations of waters with nitrate concentrations above the limits established in Royal Decree 47/2022, of 18 January, or waters defined as eutrophicated according to the analyses carried out.

Delimitation of vulnerable zones

This publication of affected waters marks the start of the period in which the Autonomous Communities must review the delimitation of areas declared vulnerable and, where appropriate, the action programmes and codes of good agricultural practice to address this type of pollution. These reviews must also take account of the measures set out in the latest River Basin Management Plans to achieve the environmental targets established in the Water Framework Directive for water bodies and protected areas.

The new Royal Decree and this declaration of affected waters addresses the problem of lack of definition of these waters that had persisted since the previous declaration in May 2011, which referred only to inter-regional river basins. The new regulation speeds up the declaration procedure effected by means of this publication of the map, which will be reviewed once again when the next monitoring report for the four-year period 2020-2023 has been submitted to the European Commission.

EU law

The publication of this map also seeks to contribute to a favourable resolution of the European Commission’s proceedings against Spain for infringement of the provisions of Directive 91/676/EEC. This case is currently at the reasoned opinion stage under Article 258 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, i.e., the stage prior to the case being sent to the Court of Justice.

The simplification of all these procedures, the alignment of objectives with the new River Basin Management Plans and the coordinated action of the competent authorities on this matter, which covers the water and agriculture sectors, must serve to solve the serious problem caused by nitrate contamination in Spain. Evidence of the improvement sought, which will only be possible with the alignment of all the competent authorities, will have to provided in the next four-yearly report to be submitted to the European Union in the summer of 2024.