Dutch provinces are doing too little to combat water pollution

The Dutch government takes insufficient action against the use of chemical pesticides in drinking water and natural resources. As a result, one third of the drinking water usedieden contains more pesticides than the permissible standard. 

In more than half of the cases, the surface water contains too many pesticides. This makes Dutch surface waters among the most polluted waters in Europe. This is evident from research by a large Dutch environmental organization into the way in which the thirteen regional provincial authorities fulfill their tasks. 

This shows that some provinces have still not implemented the EU rules against water pollution that have been in force for many years. The environmental organization advocates that the central government in The Hague takes on the task of solving this problem. It is also proposed to only allow organic farming in vulnerable areas.

Europe obliges countries to stop or minimize the use of pesticides in groundwater protection gebieden and the protected Natura 2000 gebieden. Provinces are now primarily responsible for the protection of these species, but still allow the use of many, often very toxic, pesticides.

This area contains many crops that often require intensive spraying, such as potatoes, flower bulbs and pears. Because the Netherlands is violating European law, the environmental organization has filed a complaint with the European Union about Dutch policy.

Also outside The Netherlands is not doing enough to protect the water in this vulnerable area. Buffer zones must ensure that pesticides do not end up in nearby ditches when sprayed. The Netherlands usually has buffer strips of barely one meter, but to reduce about three-quarters of the runoff, these strips would have to be at least 15 to 20 meters wide.

In the low-lying water-rich Dutch polder landscape, in many places the ditches are often only a few tens of meters next to each other. Applying a ban on fertilization in such wide European strips along ditches would mean that it would be allowed almost nowhere.