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Danube: Current Status

Page history last edited by Liz Dyer 11 years, 9 months ago



IV. Current Status



Currently the sources of nutrients in the Danube River come from agricultural sources (50%) industrial sources (25%) and settlements (25%). These nutrients come from fertilizers from agricultural practices, iron and metal processing, municipal solid waste and other sources.  Settlements comes from point and diffuse pollution.  It was found that 55% of the entire basin is ‘at risk’ or ‘possibly at risk’ from nutrient pollution and 73% from hazardous substances. The EU has made “The Nitrates Directive” to protect EU waters against nitrate pollution from agriculture. When nations have pollution levels that are or could soon be considered high, they are required to designate the area as a “nitrate vulnerable zone” and apply their agricultural action program measures. Every EU country must make a Code of Good Agricultural Practices (similar to BAPs) harmonized with this directive, and is encouraged to apply them to reduce nitrate levels (Csagoly, 2007). 


To address this problem the German organization, The Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries is collecting and cataloging data on both point source and diffuse sources of pollution  (ICPDR, 2006). According to the ICPDR in their article on nutrients “The model MONERIS (Modeling Nutrient Emissions in River Systems) has been developed and applied in the Danube River Basin to estimate nutrient emissions into surface waters from point and various diffuse sources.” Along with this many other organizations such as the Global Environmental Facility have created programs to educate farmers on waste management and also educated the public on laundry detergents to decrease the amount of nutrients in the river.  These organizations are working to help prevent further pollution of the river and are focusing their attention on the areas that really need it.  The UN does not recognize all 18 countries as bordering the Danube based on the amount of the river that passes through them.  If the country has less than 2000 square feet of the river flowing through it then it does not meet qualifications to be part of the Danube River protection convention. 


 Based on available scientific assessments and findings of the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis, the overall yearly input of nutrients from human activity amounts to 758,000 tons of nitrogen and 68,000 tons of phosphorus. 


These estimates included also the river discharges (Chaitovitz , 2010).  


The WFD sets consistence standards in water policy throughout the European Union and is flexible depending on the water issue.   They set a defined time frame for achieving "good status" for surface and ground water throughout the basin.  Public participation in the development of river basin management plans, and active involvement by stakeholders is encouraged by the WFD.  Since the Danube River Basin is made of EU member states, which are obligated to fulfill the WFD, and non-EU member states, which are not, the implementation process is difficult (Ostfeld and Tyson, 2005). 


Every year the ICDPR reorganizes with a new president that attempts to bring international cooperation. The current presidency held by the Ukraine has done just this.  The five countries that are involved in the Integrated Tisza River Basin Management Plan signed the Memorandum of Understanding in April of 2011. This management plan is the first sub-basin plan for the Danube River. The five countries, Hungary, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Ukraine now work together on an international endeavor.  Slovakia, Hungary, and Romania are EU member states and Serbia and the Ukraine are not.  These countries recognize that their borders will not stop pollution so their cooperation is crucial for ensuring good water quality.  This good cooperation will hopefully provide example to the rest of the Danube region while forming other macro-regions (Mandl, 2011).   Combining EU member states with non member states will help to enforce “The Nitrates Directive” in countries that are not specifically ordered to.


The ICPDR and Environmental Programme along with other organizations have been formed to try to help protect the river basin.  In the past ten years the water quality of the Danube has improved but many organizations are still working to reduce the amount of pollution in the river.



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