Forecasting the Effects of EU Policy Measures on the Nitrate Pollution of Groundwater Based on a Coupled Agroeconomic Hydro(geo)logic Model
Research Centre Juelich
The fundamental objectives of the European Union-Water Framework Directive and the EU Groundwater Directive are to attain a good status of water and groundwater resources in the member states of the EU by 2015. For river basins, whose good status cannot be guaranteed by 2015, catchment-wide operational plans and measurement programs have to be drafted and implemented until 2009. In the river basin district Weser, Germany, which comprises a catchment area of ca. 49.000 km2, the achievement of the good status is unclear, or rather unlikely for 63 percent of the groundwater bodies. Inputs from diffuse sources and most of all nitrate losses from agriculturally used land have been identified as the main reasons for exceeding the groundwater threshold value for nitrate (50 mg/l) and for failing the good qualitative status of groundwater. The achievement of good qualitative status of groundwater bodies entails a particular challenge as the complex ecological, hydrological, hydrogeological and agro-economic relationships have to be considered simultaneously. We used an interdisciplinary model network to predict the nitrogen intakes into groundwater at the regional scale using an area differentiated approach. The model system combines the agro-economic model RAUMIS for estimating nitrogen surpluses from agriculture and the hydrological models GROWA/DENUZ/WEKU for describing the reactive nitrate transport in the soil-groundwater system. In a first step the model is used to analyze the present situation using N surpluses from agriculture for the year 2003. In many region of the Weser basin, particularly in the northwestern part which is characterized by high livestock densities, predicted nitrate concentrations in percolation water exceed the EU groundwater quality standard of 50 mg/L by far. In a second step the temporal and spatial impacts of the common agricultural policy (CAP) of the EU, already implemented agri-environmental measures of the Federal States and the expected developments of agriculture were assessed with regard to both, groundwater quality in 2015 and the regional agricultural income. On average for the whole Weser basin, the reduction of nitrogen surpluses for agricultural areas leads to a decrease of nitrate concentrations in the leachate by about 10 mg NO3/L. In the agricultural-intensive used regions much higher reductions in the order of 40 mg NO3/L may be expected. Using the environmental target value for groundwater, i.e. a concentration of 50 mg NO3/L in the leachate as a target for groundwater protection, the model results were used directly to identify those regions where additional agro-environmental reduction measures are required. There, a backward calculation allows the quantification of maximal permissible nitrogen surplus levels, which was used as a reference for the derivation of additional nitrogen reduction measures. It could be shown that a further reduction by ca. 20.000 t N/a (19 percent) is necessary to reach a nitrate concentration in groundwater of 50 mg/l. The related costs sum up to ca. 75 Mio ¬/a.