The European Map

This map shows the most up-to-date information on the issues plaguing our groundwater. Using the same data, the European authorities demand the countries to make improvements in the water bodies that are in poor status. The red parts of the map – water bodies in poor status – indicate the areas where the Member States will need to implement corrective measures to reverse the situation, in order to achieve “good status”. This means that the national authorities will need to reduce the pressures that put the water bodies at risk. This could mean adopting measures that limit the use of pesticides or fertilisers in agriculture in a designated area or limiting water extraction (industry) or irrigation (agriculture).

INTERACTIVE MAP: Know the status of the European Union groundwater
Good status
Poor status
Unknown status
Mandatory data not yet reported and/or disclosed
L Groundwater level decrease (aquifer depth, water volume) due to extractions.
N Nutrient pollution, mainly from fertilizers and animal waste, above the legal limit (50 mg/l) or close to the limit with an upward trend.
C Chemical pollution other than nutrients (mainly pesticides but also metals, hydrocarbons, etc.) above the legal limit or close and with an upward trend.
E Impact on terrestrial ecosystems dependent on groundwater.
M Microbiological contamination.
O Organic contamination.
Q Decrease in surface water quality associated with chemical or quantitative impact.
I Alterations in the direction of water flow due to saline intrusion.
S Saline intrusion or contamination.
T Other types of significant impact.
N No significant impact.
A Acidification of water bodies.
U Unknown impact type.
H Altered habitats due to hydrological changes.
Y Altered habitats due to morphological changes (includes connectivity).

Interpreting the map

  1. Since the maps are based on the official data provided by the Member States they are only as good as the national reporting is. We have highlighted some of the key monitoring concerns expressed by the experts we talked to in our piece (No measurement, no problem section). Some of our media partners have managed to obtain additional data at the national level. 
  2. The methods that the Member States have used to collect data may vary. This means that their results often cannot be directly compared. Please bear this in mind when comparing the Member States’ statuses, of when comparing the statuses between different reporting cycles. 
  3. The groundwater bodies are shown as in poor status (red on the map) if they are in poor quantitive status (water levels), poor qualitative status (one of the monitor pollutants exceeding the legal thresholds), or both at the same time. On the interactive map,  you will see the reason for the waterbody’s poor status when you click on the map. When it comes to the poor qualitative status, the map also shows the substance(s) causing it (read more about the terminology in our methodology).
  4. The groundwater bodies are listed as in ‘good status’ if both their chemical and quantitative status are ‘good’.
  5. The map doesn’t show the trends in water quality or quantity. Theoretically, a body of water could have improved in terms of water quality or quantity since the last monitoring cycle, and still appear red on the map. This means that the legally established thresholds were exceeded (50 mg/L for nitrates and 0,1 μg/l for active substances in pesticides and their relevant metabolites; or 0,5 μg/l for the total sum of all individual pesticides/metabolites detected and  quantified).
  6. Please keep in mind that the map of groundwater doesn’t show the quality of water coming out of our taps. In Europe, we generally don’t drink raw water. However, since in the EU the groundwater accounts for 65% of urban water supply (and 25% of water for irrigation in agriculture), there is a direct correlation between groundwater and drinking water. The poor chemical status of groundwater can mean that this water will need to be treated before it reaches our homes or that a specific catchment is not safe for public consumption.
  7. The interactive data will be updated as new public data becomes available.

The European Database

If you would like to get access to the raw data, you can request it through this form. The full database will be made public on this website after all our media partners publish their stories in the coming weeks.

For any other questions on the collaboration and investigation, you can always contact us.

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