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28 January 2011

EU clamps down on member states' water quality

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Four European countries are in hot water with the European Commission after failing to meet environmental standards for wetland preservation and surface water quality

Greece has been referred to the European Court of Justice after failing to stem pollution of Lake Koroneia – a wetland for 150 bird species and one-time fishing Mecca – that has now become too dirty to bathe in.

The European Commission announced on 27 January that it would also be suspending a pledge to pour €20 billion into a lake rehabilitation fund for Koroneia, in the Thessaloniki region.

"There are still trucks carrying water from households and industry being poured into the lake," said Commission spokeswoman Marlene Holzner. "We will stop paying the money. Not a cent has been paid out so far."

Three other countries, Belgium, the Czech Republic, and Estonia have been asked by Environment Comissioner Janez Potočnik to comply with EU legislation on environmental quality standards for surface water.

They have all failed to inform the Commission about the passage of the Priority Substances Directive into national law and have now been sent a reasoned opinion by the commissioner.

The directive protects the environment and human health by regulating water quality for substances that are known to pose a substantial risk to the aquatic environment.


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