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Water, Drinking Water, and Water Protection
Water type of the Year 2013 - Streams and rivers of the southern Alpine foothills
The majority of the streams and rivers in the southern Alpine foothills have good ecological status. This means they have semi-natural habitats, their waters have a low nutrient load, and pollution is low. Yet even these watercourses in the southern Alpine foothills are used for energy production, in agriculture and have installations for flood protection. Their quality can be further improved through renaturation efforts.
Fracking: No drilling in drinking water protection areas
A new study upholds the call for caution when extracting natural gas through fracking. Until all environmental risks have been assessed in detail, experts advise against using this technology on a large scale for gas extraction. Fracking involves extracting natural gas through artificially created fractures in underground rock layers, which requires the use of large amounts of water and sometimes toxic chemicals. The study recommends imposing a ban on fracking in drinking water protection areas.
Baltic Sea littoral states willing to pay for protection of marine environment
Although the inputs of nitrogen and phosphorus to the Baltic Sea in Germany have declined significantly in recent years, algal bloom, turbidity and oxygen deficiency (eutrophication) are still common. This is a reason why many people in the littoral states are concerned and willing to pay a total of four billion euros per year for eutrophication reduction measures. These findings are the result of a UBA-funded study carried out by the international research network BalticSTERNResearch network of partners from all nine Baltic Sea littoral states with a Secretartiat at the Stockholm Resilience Centre.. Germans, for example, are prepared to pay an additional sum of 27.40 euros per person and year for a healthy marine ecosystem.
Drinking water – Number One food – is rated “very good“
Germany’s drinking water is excellent quality. Daily tests done at all large-scale water utilities in 2008-2010 affirm this result. Water complies with strict legal guidelines for nearly every microbiological and chemical quality requirement, and it can be enjoyed without concern. However, when household pipes are made of unsuitable materials or if taps are unclean, water should be run until cool before it is drunk.
Refreshment straight from one’s own well
More than 700,000 people in Germany draw on private wells or springs for drinking water. Wells are an especially important source of water in rural areas. UBA has advice on how to keep that cool refreshment both healthy and safe.
Changes in Drinking Water Ordinance promise …
…even better protection against pathogens and pollutants in drinking water, starting 1 November 2011. The ”last few metres“ of pipes are crucial to good quality in drinking water. Faulty construction and improperly operated supply systems in buildings can foster the spread of pathogens. Improper installation materials have been proven to emit unwanted chemicals into drinking water, which is why the legislator has reacted by introducing a cap on uranium levels. Uranium is a toxic heavy metal that occurs naturally in some areas.
Water Framework Directive: The way towards healthy waters
The aim of the Water Framework Directive is to promote good water quality in all European water bodies. In densely populated countries such as Germany, this poses a major challenge for all parties concerned. Adequate management is necessary for water bodies – rivers and lakes, groundwater bodies, transitional and coastal waters – to achieve the quality objectives. This brochure presents the results of the river basin management planning process in Germany 2009.
International Conference on Marine Litter
There are some 13,000 plastic litter particles adrift for every square kilometre of ocean surface. In order for the oceans and seas in the EU to achieve the 'good environmental status' by 2020 as required by the Water Framework Directive, further inputs of litter must be prevented. This requires improvement of waste management at sea and in ports and stemming the flood of plastic bags and microplastics from cosmetic products and toiletries. The International Marine Litter Conference, jointly organised by UBA and BMU in cooperation with the European Commission, took place in April 2013 to define additional measures and prepare effective actions plans.
It’s the last metres that count when it comes to drinking water
Drinking water quality is very good everywhere in Germany – until it reaches the house connection. The Drinking Water Ordinance has been amended to prevent contamination of drinking water by the materials in pipes, tubing, in water taps and other fittings. Under the new legislation, the Federal Environment Agency will establish binding standards for materials in contact with drinking water that govern new construction and servicing of water supply systems. The Agency has already issued recommendations in this regard. These guidelines will be phased in to become binding starting in 2015.
10 years since Elbe flood: Only those with timely information can be suitably prepared
In the summer of 2002 the flood of the century along the Elbe River caused more than eleven billion euros in damages and cost 21 human lives. The floods caught many people by surprise at the time, which is why flood hazard maps are to be drawn up by the end of 2013. Land- and homeowners can use them as a source of information and then make their decisions about what preventative measures to take. An UBA brochure also offers help.
Lower emissions from ships in North Sea and English Channel from 2016 onwards?
The designation of nitrogen emission control areas (NECA) in which stricter limits would apply to new ships as from 2016 can reduce nitrogen oxide emissions from shipping. Two studies have now looked into the costs and benefits of establishing an NECA in the North Sea and the English Channel. The positive environmental and health effects were found to exceed the costs for the necessary onboard emission control equipment. The US and Canadian coastal waters have already been designated as NECA.
2012 Water Body Type of the Year: Lowland sandy-clayey river
Lowland sandy-clayey rivers are located in the landscape of northern Germany formed during the last ice age. The rivers Lippe, Ems, Aller, Alster, Trave, Elde and Spree are typical of this water body type, and 98 per cent of them are not in good ecological condition. Reasons include river engineering, channelization, lacking riparian woods, chemical run-off from agricultural activities and wastewater treatment, and mine drainage. Only very few river courses will achieve good condition by 2015 as a result of creating more space and pollution prevention measures.
Children’s book: Auf Großer Fahrt – Luna und Polly Pop in der wundersamen Welt des Wassers
Luna and Polly Pop, aged 8 and 12, navigate one chapter of the world of water after another in their old bathtub. Their constant companion: an annoying pool supervisor and his bullhorn who issues unsolicited comments. Together they wonder how the world would be without water, where water comes from, and where it goes to. How old is water anyway? Why can some animals walk on it? They also try out tasty thirst-quenching recipes on their journey. Everyone knows it’s fun to play with water, but can water make music, too?