An Analysis of the State of Water Pollution in Europe

Categories: Water Pollution


Water pollution is a problem that effects all living things. Every living organism on earth requires water to survive. When the water is polluted, it not only effects the plants, insects, and animals, it harms people. Taking care of this planet's water is vital to the short term and long term survival of the living things that inhabit the earth. The oceans, lakes, and streams are constantly polluted by individuals and many industries. These waters must be cleaned up before the costs are way beyond money and the damage way beyond repair.

Action to clean up the Earth's precious water supply is long over due. Governments, as well as the individual, in all countries must begin to take action. Plans must be made to rid the waters of pollution, and prevent any further destruction of the one and only source of water that Earth has. Governments need to develop policies and regulations to stop the passage of pollutants into the water.

The individual must take their own action. Using products that do not cause harm to the ocean, disposing of harmful products, and pushing the government to take action against water pollution are not only the rights of the individual, but the obligations of the individual. The action taken now will not only make the planet safer and cleaner for the present, but for generations to come.


The pros to saving the ocean are far greater than any cons someone might come up with. One of the obvious pros is that cleaning up the ocean means a healthier planet.

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Contaminating the oceans also contaminates our food supply. Having healthier seafood makes for healthier people. Cleaning up and taking care of the oceans gives people a good place for recreation. The process of cleaning up and monitoring the oceans will provide many new job opportunities. Action to take clean the ocean may sound expensive, but it will be cheaper in the long run. If the world waits to long to take action, then the costs to clean up the ocean could be enormous. Letting the oceans reach dangerous levels of contamination will for sure cost even more money.


The biggest "con" in the struggle to save the ocean is cost. The cost to create action plans for saving the ocean will most definitely be high. Many people might feel that there are more important things to take care of right now. The oceans do not appear to be under immediate threat. The plan to clean up the oceans will also be an inconvenience to many. Industries will have to hire engineers to develop cleaner methods of use and disposal of harmful substances. Cleaner methods of disposal are usually more expensive. Many smaller companies may go out of business due to rising costs of production and disposal. Farmers will have to resort to other chemicals for pesticides and fertilizers that may not be as effective. The farmer may lose money in taking action to prevent runoff. The consumer will probably have to pay more for products that are environmentally sound. The government will have to hire people to enforce the new legislation.

European Citizens

Europe's citizens are increasingly demanding cleaner water, cleaner water for drinking, cleaner water for bathing, cleaner water as part of their environment, and their local and regional heritage. The increasing demand by citizens and environmental organisations for cleaner rivers and lakes, groundwater and coastal beaches is evident. This demand by citizens is one of the main reasons why the Commission has made water protection one of the priorities of its work. A new European Water Policy will have to get polluted waters clean again, and ensure clean waters are kept clean. In achieving these objectives, the roles of citizens and citizens' groups will be crucial. This is why a new European Water Policy has to get citizens more involved..

Good Waters by 2010

There are a number of objectives in respect of which the quality of water is protected. The key ones at European level are general protection of the aquatic ecology, specific protection of unique and valuable habitats, protection of drinking water resources, and protection of bathing water. All these objectives must be integrated for each river basin. It is clear that the last three I special habitats, drinking water areas and bathing water I apply only to specific bodies of water (those supporting special wetlands; those identified for drinking water abstraction; those generally used as bathing areas). In contrast, ecological protection should apply to all waters: the central requirement of the Treaty is that the environment be protected to a high level in its entirety.

Europe's Surface Water

A bill was introduced to cover all surface waters. These are the two elements "good ecological status" and "good chemical status". As no absolute standards for biological quality can be set which apply across the Community, because of ecological variability, the controls are specified as allowing only a slight departure from the biological community which would be expected in conditions of minimal anthropogenic impact. A set of procedures for identifying that point for a given body of water, and establishing particular chemical or hydro morphological standards to achieve it, is provided, together with a system for ensuring that each member state interprets the bill in a consistent way. The system is somewhat complicated, but this is will happen given the extent of ecological variability, and the large number of parameters, which must be dealt with.
Good chemical status is defined in terms of compliance with all the quality standards established for chemical substances at European level. The Directive also provides a purpose for renewing these standards and establishing new ones by means of a prioritization mechanism for hazardous chemicals. This will ensure at least a minimum chemical quality, particularly in relation to very toxic substances, everywhere in the Community.

Europe's Groundwater

The case of groundwater is somewhat different. The presumption in relation to groundwater should broadly be that it should not be polluted at all. For this reason, setting chemical quality standards may not be the best approach, as it gives the impression of an allowed level of pollution to which Member States can fill up. A very few such standards have been established at European level for particular issues (nitrates, pesticides and biocides), and these will always be there.. But for general protection, we have taken another approach. It is essentially a precautionary one. It comprises a prohibition on direct discharges to groundwater, and to cover indirect discharges) a requirement to monitor groundwater bodies so as to detect changes in chemical composition, and to reverse any anthropogenic ally induced upward pollution trend. Taken together, these should ensure the protection of groundwater from all contamination, according to the principle of minimum anthropogenic impact.

The Water Framework Directive

Quality standards can underestimate the effect of a particular substance on the ecosystem, due to the limitations in scientific knowledge regarding dose-response relationships and the mechanics of transport within the environment. For this reason, a consensus has developed that both are needed in practice – a combined approach. The Water Framework Directive makes this. It does so by the source side, it requires that as part of the basic measures to be taken in the river basin, all existing technology-driven source-based controls must be implemented as a first step. But over and above this, it also sets out a framework for developing more controls. On the effects side, it coordinates all the environmental objectives in existing legislation, and provides a new overall objective of good status for all waters, and requires that where the measures taken on the source side are not sufficient to achieve these objectives, additional ones are required. If there is a company that is polluting to much there are penalties.


Anyone who disposes of a substance at sea, except in accordance with a permit, or anyone who fails to make an emergency report is guilty of an offence.
Penalties range up to $300,000 or six months imprisonment, or both, on summary conviction and up to $1 million or 3 years imprisonment, or both, on indictment.

Waste Advice

Hazardous materials can often be identified by certain characteristics that they possess such as being corrosive, flammable, reactive or toxic. Hazardous materials are used at most federal facilities in the Atlantic Region for activities as ordinary as cleaning to highly specialized work with radioactive materials. Most materials are consumed during use. Some hazardous materials, however, may no longer be required, such as laboratory chemicals, some may have reached the end of their lifespan, such as batteries and used oil, and some may have been found to be a health or environmental concern, such as leaded paint and asbestos. These hazardous materials, and sometimes their containers, become waste and must be disposed of safely.
Within the year, Federal Hazardous Waste Regulations, are expected to be in place. These Regulations will apply to the management of hazardous waste on federal lands and to federal works and undertakings. These Regulations will place limits on gaseous releases to the air, effluent releases and leach ate releases from solids.

Solutions to Europe's Water Ways

Many years ago nobody would have thought that Europe's water ways would ever need saving. The covers over 17% of the earth's surface. People would wonder how something so colossal ever be effected by their actions. Unfortunately, the oceans do suffer from mankind's careless, selfish acts. There are numerous ways to begin to clean up the oceans. These solutions range from individual action to government action. The individual can begin to help stop the leaking and dumping of harmful pollutants into the river. . One of the best ways to get involved in the clean up and preservation of the ocean is to become educated on the subject, get involved, and push for government action. Individuals can become involved by helping to organize activities that involve focusing on the marine environment. Some of these activates might be: beach seeps, eco-regattas, youth projects, exhibits, concerts, research, and conferences The EPA suggests that the individual can take care of the oceans by being responsible, and getting involved. Each person can keep themselves informed of current issues, use and dispose of products properly, and use the right to vote to get legislation passed The Natural Resource Defense Council has a few ways in which to help clean the oceans and prevent any further pollution.


Much progress has been made in water protection in Europe, in individual Member States, but also in tackling significant problems at European level. But Europe's waters are still in need of increased efforts to get them clean or to keep them clean. After 25 years of European water legislation, this demand is expressed, not only by the scientific community and other experts, but to an ever increasing extent by citizens and environmental organizations. We should take up the challenge of water protection, one of the great challenges for the European Union, as it approaches the new millennium. Let us seize the initiative generated by the present political process on the Water Framework Directive for the benefit of all Europels citizens and waters:


Holing, Dwight, eds. Ebb Tide for Pollution: Action for Cleaning up Coastal Waters. National Resources Defense Council: New York, 1989.
Weber, Peter. Abandened Seas: Reversing the Decline of the Oceans* Worldwatch Paper 116, Library of Congress, November 1993.
Windom, H.L., and R.A Duce eds. Marine Pollutant Transfer. Massachusetts: Lexington Books, 1973.
Environmental Protection Agency. "The Quality of Our Nation's Water." 1992. U.S. EPA. World Wide Web. Available at: http//
Ocean Institute of Canada. "Oceans Day." 1995. Nova Scotia, Canada. World Wide Web. Available at:
Smithsonian's Ocean Planet. "Oceans in Peril." 1995. World Wide Web. Available at:
Water Pollution.1995. Available at:

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An Analysis of the State of Water Pollution in Europe. (2021, Oct 31). Retrieved from

An Analysis of the State of Water Pollution in Europe
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