Nitrates in groundwater

In 2018, Belgian groundwater contained 26.6 milligrams of nitrogen in the form of nitrates per litre of water. To achieve the sustainable development goal by 2030, this figure must be reduced. Between 2000 and 2018, the trend is undetermined (assessment of November 2021).

The chart will appear within this DIV.

Nitrates in groundwater - Belgium and international comparison

milligrams NO3-N per litre

 1992199520002005201020132015201720182018//19922018//2013
Belgium23.926.325.725.027.027.026.526.026.60.4-0.3
Europe19.319.820.420.020.120.220.420.221.40.41.2
//: Average Growth Rates

EEA (2021), Nutrients in freshwater in Europe (CSI 020/WAT 003), https://www.eea.europa.eu/data-and-maps/indicators/nutrients-in-freshwater/nutrients-in-freshwater-assessment-published-10 (consulted on 27/05/2021).

Definition: the average nitrate concentration in groundwater is calculated on the basis of 20 monitoring points located throughout Belgium. It is expressed as the nitrogen weight in those nitrates per liter of water (mg NO3-N/l). The data come from the European Environment Agency. The European data are given for 12 countries: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Portugal, Slovakia and Slovenia.

Goal: the average nitrate concentration in groundwater must be reduced.

The Sustainable Development Goals or SDGs adopted by the UN in 2015 include target 6.3: “By 2030, improve water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally”.

The Federal Long-Term Strategic Vision for Sustainable Development contains objective 35: “Emissions of pollutants will be significantly reduced and air (indoor and outdoor), water and soil pollution will no longer have a significant - direct or indirect - impact, neither on health nor on the environment” (Belgian Official Gazette, 08/10/2013).

International comparison: the average nitrate concentration in groundwater in Belgium is well above the European average, which remains relatively stable. Only Germany has higher average concentrations in 2018 with 32.2mg NO3-N/l and Finland ranked first with 0.7mg NO3-N/l.

UN indicator: the selected indicator does not correspond to any SDG indicator, but is related to target 6.3. The nitrate concentration in groundwater is an indicator illustrating the pollution of groundwater.

Sources

More information is available in French and Dutch.