Groundwater and surface water

The Green Growth plan has injected new funds and reinforced several already existing initiatives. Several new measures have been put in place to protect ground and surface water. These involve the requirement of uncultivated, non-fertilised and non-sprayed buffer zones surrounding public water supply wells, the continuation of the warning system for plant protection products leaching into the gound water and initiatives that will ensure a restrictive authorisation scheme.

10 metre buffer zones along watercourses and lakes

In the spring of 2011, the Danish parliament adopted the Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries’ legislative proposals on requirement of up to 10 meter wide buffer zones bordering all water courses and lakes larger than 100m2.  Farmers are not permitted to use fertiliser or plant protection products within the buffer zones. The buffer zones must essentially be cultivation-free zones. However, it is allowed  to cultivate of multiannual energy crops. The requirement is expected to be implemented in 2012.
Read the Act on buffer zones here. (retsinfo.dk, in danish)

25m Bufferzones for public water supply wells

The Green Growth plan has determined that increased protection should be afforded around wells extracting water for public use.  Municipalities granting permits for groundwater extraction have up til now defined 10 metre-wide enclosed bufferzone zone surrounding public water supply wells in which there must be no cultivation, use of fertiliser or spraying.

In spring 2011 an amendment to the Danish Environmental Protection Act was passed to increase the zone by further 15 meter resulting in a requirement for a safeguard zone formed as a circle with a radius of 25 metre. The zone has to be non-cultivated, non-fertilised and non-sprayed.This means that the plant protection product-free area around wells will be over six times larger than is currently the case.

Read the Act here (retsinfo.dk, in danish)

When large volumes of groundwater are extracted via a supply well, faster seepage of plant protections products occurs to the groundwater from areas in the immediate proximity of the well. The 25 metre buffer zones will counteract this effect.

The Act relating to a 25 metre-wide safeguard zone was passed in spring 2011. The buffer zones will be designated from the 2011/2012 growing season, which begins with the sowing of winter crops in August 2011.

The Pesticide Leaching Assessment Programme (PLAP) (a warning system for pesticides leaching into the groundwater)

The Pesticide Leaching Assessment Programme is applied to the potential leaching of authorised plant protection products under actual Danish conditions. That is to say, substances are tested in areas where they are being used. This takes place on a number of particular fields where the leaching of plant protection products to the groundwater is measured after their application, i.e. within one to two years.
This means that the Environmental Protection Agency can quickly intervene should it emerge that an authorised product, against all expectations, poses a risk to the groundwater.  The warning system is an additional arrangement under the Environmental Protection Agency’s pesticides authorisation scheme and serves as a monitoring measure. The system provides a “fast” in situ assessment of the potential for pesticides to seep into the groundwater and to be carried via the drainage system.

The warning system is financed by the Environmental Protection Agency and carried out by GEUS, NERI and the Faculty of Agricultural Sciences, Aarhus University. It will continue under the Green Growth Agreement until and including 2015.

Read more on the warning system website pesticidvarsling.dk (in danish)

Restrictive authorisation

Under the Green Growth agreement, it was decided to continue and strengthen the restrictive authorisation scheme for plant protection products.  For example, appropriate conditions for the use of the individual plant protection products will be established, e.g. with safeguard zones for watercourses.

The scheme will also ensure that residues of plant protection products in foodstuffs are kept to a minimum. In order to achieve these goals, the authorisation scheme must be continually reviewed and streamlined.  Moreover, focus is being placed on influencing EU risk assessments of new active substances by ensuring that specific Danish factors are included in the EU assessment; for example the risk of plant protection products and their degradation products being leached into the groundwater.

In the area of foodstuffs, attention is focused on the part of the approval scheme relating to the assessment of residues in food in relation to thresholds and active cooperation in the establishment of common thresholds within the EU.