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Towards the world’s best drinking water protection

By State of Green, January 14, 2019

A new Danish agreement backed by a broad group of political parties will improve the protection of the exceptionally clean Danish groundwater. With the new agreement, Denmark takes an important step towards implementing the world’s best protection of clean drinking water.

In the future, Danish groundwater will be screened for even more pesticide remains than what has been the case until now. Further, the agreement takes an important step towards phasing out pesticides close to drinking water drillings.

‘’The latest findings of pesticides in the drinking water have worried me and the other political parties involved in the agreement. I am pleased that we stand united in protecting the drinking water and strengthen the protection of one of the most valuable resources we have. I am particularly happy about the prohibition of spraying crops near drinking water drillings, and that the groundwater will be screened for more types of contaminating matter than ever,’’ said the Danish Minister of Food and Environment Jakob Ellemann-Jensen.

Minister for Environment and Food of Denmark, Jakob Ellemann-Jensen

The agreement was enacted after the Danish Water Panel, an expert group appointed by the Danish Environmental Protection Agency, recommended a standard screening – if possible – of 363 different types of contaminating matters in the groundwater. Currently, only 35 contaminating matters are included in the screening.

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Crop spray prohibition

Beside the extended screening standards, the agreement also includes initiatives on implementing a prohibition on crop spraying in the areas near the 5,500 drinking water drillings in Denmark. These areas cover around 22,000 hectares of land. Fields make up approx. 43 per cent of this acreage and landowners will be compensated for lost income. Water consumers are to pay for the compensation and, according to calculations from the Ministry of Food and Environment, the water bill for the average household will only increase by EUR 1.07 – 1.61 as a consequence.

‘’The new agreement is great. DANVA has worked for this for about 20 years and it is a big day for Denmark. The protection of the Danish drinking water is one of the key pillars in the water companies’ work. We appreciate the fact that the Danish politicians have respected our request for prohibiting crop spraying near the water drillings. Now we have an agreement about how we are to protect the groundwater close to the drillings,’’ said Carl-Emil Larsen, CEO of DANVA (the Danish Water and Wastewater Association).

Carl-Emil Larsen, CEO, DANVA (© photographer Rasmus Baaner)

In the future, municipalities are to review the areas around the drinking water drillings and secure the areas within three years, or a standard crop spray prohibition will be initiated.

A total of approx. EUR 6.8 million is allocated to the agreement initiatives.

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Working group becomes permanent

According to the agreement, the Danish Water Panel will become a permanent forum who are to continuously evaluate the need for adding more types of pesticide matters in the well screenings and the surveillance of the groundwater. Currently, the work group includes KL, Danish Regions, DANVA, Danish Waterworks, Geus, Danish Patient Safety Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency. Researchers from Danish universities are also invited to participate.

Sources

The Danish Ministry for Environment and Food

DANVA

Ingeniøren

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