ETC/ICM Report 1/2020: Pesticides in European rivers, lakes and groundwaters - Data assessment

31 Jul 2020

Pesticides play an important role in the food production process, but they can also lead to harmful effects in the environment. This report provides an overview of the available information on pesticide concentrations in fresh waters and groundwaters in Europe.
The report considers data comparable at European level, delivering a detailed summary of data reported to WISE-SoE by Eionet countries, for concentrations in rivers, lakes and groundwater between 2007 - 2017. This includes information on 180 substances, which were characterised according to usage, mode of action, environmental quality standards and analytical limits of quantification. Other data sources, like scientific research projects, special campaigns or emission data were found to be less useful for a Europe-wide assessment.
For rivers and lakes over the period 2007 - 2017, between 5 – 15 % of the monitoring stations showed exceedances of environmental quality standards by herbicides and 3 – 8 % by insecticides. Exceedances in groundwater were 7 % for herbicides and less than 1 % for insecticides. Exceedances were assessed using European environmental quality standards where possible, but otherwise a precautionary approach was taken, using national standards. By comparison, percentages of water body status as reported under the Water Framework Directive (2010 – 2015) were similar for groundwater, but for surface waters only 0.4% were reported as failing good status.
The data quality assurance and assessment methods provide a sound basis for further work to develop an indicator on pesticides in water.

Prepared by:

Lead Authors: Volker Mohaupt, Jeanette Völker (UBA), Rolf Altenburger (UFZ), Ingo Kirst (UBA), Dana Kühnel (UFZ), Eberhard Küster (UFZ), Silvie Semeradova (CENIA), Gasper Subelj (TC Vode)

EEA lead author and project manager: Caroline Whalley
Editor: Sebastian Birk (UDE)
Coordination: Christiane Katterfeld (UFZ)
Language Check: Shane Hume (CENIA)
Layout: F&U confirm, Leipzig

Key words: rivers, lakes, groundwater, Europe, pesticide, WISE-SoE, Waterbase, environmental quality standard

Published by: ETC/ICM, July 2020

Additional Material: Find the Annexes to the report in xls format here