|Main authors:||Mihail Dumitru, Olga Petruta Vizitiu|
|Source document:||“Quick scan” for basic information on case studies, governance structures & multi- actor platforms. FAIRWAY Internal Report, 2017|
1. General context
The protection of water bodies is one of the most important aims at the local, regional and national level in Romania. In order to achieve this, Water Framework Directive 2000/60/EC (which sets out a framework of commune policy in the water sector) was transposed into national legislation by Water Law no. 107/1996 with subsequent changes and additions. The Water Framework Directive is the main legislative instrument related to water protection that aims at reaching a good water quality state.
In addition the Nitrate Directive 91/676/EC (relating to water protection against pollution with nitrates from agricultural sources) was transposed into national legislation through Governmental Decision no. 964/2000 on approval of the Action Plan for water protection against pollution with nitrates from agricultural sources. According to the provisions of the Action Plan, at every four years these actions must be taken:
- designation (re-designation) of vulnerable areas to nitrate pollution from agricultural sources;
- development/revision of the Code of Good Agricultural Practices for water protection against pollution with nitrates from agricultural sources, in order to be used by farmers;
- development for each vulnerable area (or as appropriate - group of vulnerable areas with similar characteristics or at national level) of an Action Program including concrete measures for implementing the Code of Good Agricultural Practices.
Taking into account the criteria for water protection (including the principle of prevention which is applied at European Union level, consideration of the presence of eutrophication at Black Sea level and the fact that all the national water resources drain in Black Sea) during the last evaluation of the stage of implementing Nitrate Directive, it was decided to apply an action program for water protection against pollution with nitrates from agricultural sources at the level of whole Romanian territory. By appying a single action program in this way, the objectives of Nitrate Directive are achieved. This action is an exception from the obligation of designation (re-designation) of vulnerable areas to nitrate pollution. Thus no vulnerable areas to nitrate pollution were designated.
The compliance requirements with the provisions of Nitrate Directive are also included in the Common Agricultural Policy as cross-compliance regulations within the subsidizing schemes and measures for farmers. Cross-compliance regulations are grouped as legal requirements in terms of environmental management and climate changes (SMR) and good agricultural and environmental conditions of land (GAEC).
Within this legal framework, farmers have to comply with different measures set out in the Code of Good Agricultural Practices for water protection against pollution with nitrates from agricultural sources, the most important ones being: storage of animal manure from agricultural farms; application of nitrogen fertilisers; interdiction periods for manure application on agricultural land.
2. The particular case of Arges Vedea and its role in FAIRWAY
The area of the case study covers three counties (Arges, Giurgiu and Teleorman) and is located in the Arges-Vedea watersheds, South Romania. The area lies between the Carpathian mountains in the north (up to 2,500 m altitude) and the Danube river in the south. All the major relief forms (mountain, hill, plane) are included in the area.
Due to its relief, the area shows a distribution of climate from mountain-specific (low temperatures, excess of water) to dry in the plain adjacent to the Danube river. Soils in the case study are very complex ranging from soils specific to high altitude grasslands and forests (litosols, brown acid soils) to the sandy soils in the Danube plain. In the central part of the area chernozems and vertisols with more than 45% clay content are dominant. The Arges and Vedea rivers are tributaries to the Danube and 75% of their catchment area is included in the case study area. The case study includes 5 aquifers of various origins (Holocene, Upper Pleistocene and Upper Pleistoced-Holocene), lithology of the vadose zone (siltic clay, clay-sandy clay, loess), thickness and hydraulic conductivity of the vadose zone. The land use pattern is more complex in the Arges county due to its relief (arable, pastures and hayfields, orchards and vineyards) and arable is dominant in Giurgiu and Teleorman counties.
The particular water quality issue from which the area suffers is high nitrate content in groundwater. About 75% of drinking water is taken from private wells located on household sites. Most of the households have animals (up to 3 Animal Units) and very rudimentary manure storage facilities so the main pollution sources for nitrates is animal wastes. Most of the animals in small individual farms are inside the village area and therefore, the pressure for groundwater pollution is inside the perimeter of build-in areas of villages. In the rest of the municipalities there is a public drinking water supply (mainly from surface waters) with quality within the limits of drinking water regulations. The problem here is that in many households there is no public sewage system.
The national network developed by the Romanian Waters Administration was used for evaluating nitrate concentration in the groundwater in the case study. Field campaigns measuring nitrate concentration in public and individual wells in hill region of the Arges county were added to the national netwotk. The pattern of nitrate shows that the pollution of groundwater with nitrates is more a site-specific problem than a diffuse one (points with high nitrate concentration near points with low concentration, no correlation with high animal concentrations.
A World Bank project related to “Integrated Control of Fertilizer Use” is being implemented in Arges-Vedea catchment. Of relevance to FAIRWAY, its main objectives are the development of measures to mitigate the nitrate flow to surface water and groundwater by:
- development and implementation of the Code for Good Agricultural Practices;
- building collective and individual manure storage facilities;
- fertilization plans at farm level according to the local pedoclimatic conditions, crop need and on-going legislation;
- awareness-raising training for training farmers and local communities to prevent water pollution by nitrates from agriculture sources.
3. Mitigation measures used
Mitigation measures being implemented include:
- adoption of nutrient management practices based on soils available nutrients and minimum additional inputs of nutrients in order to meet the crops needs for the forecasted yields;
- promoting other conservative practices such as livestock manure management, pastures management and grazing management, buffer strips, vegetative protection belts, etc.;
- a training program for advisory staff, farmers and local authorities, built on the on-farm demonstration programs, would be funded by the project for disseminating results of improved practices. The project would provide funds for recruitment of agencies skilled in nutrient management to provide advice and training and for meeting the additional costs incurred by farmers during the implementation of the on-farm demonstration programs (e.g. soil testing, seeds and saplings for vegetative barriers, nutrients test on plants and soil, electric fences for controlled grazing etc.)
In order to implement Nitrates Directive, at national level a Nitrate Committee has been established. This is composed of members from various ministries (Minister of Environment, Ministry of Waters and Forests, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Public Health). Periodically they have meetings to identify the problems and define the action measures for their remediation. They also discuss problems identified by the farmers are discussed within Committee. In this way the measures established are also according to the farmers' needs. In addition, the National Administration of Romanian Waters periodically monitors groundwater and surface water quality and identifies the areas with problems of nitrate pollution from agricultural sources.
In response to these measures, a revised version of the Code of Good Agricultural Practices for water protection against pollution with nitrates from agricultural sources has been applied. Communal and individual platforms were designed and built, training programs for advisory staff, farmers and local authorities were performed in around 100 communes. Also biogas plants were built and are currently functioning.
The main challenge in the case study is to develop nutrient management plans at farm level in order to minimize the nitrate flows to water bodies that consider the complex farm typology of the area and to promote the manure storage facilities fitted to local farm conditions. The main research questions to be addressed are as follows.
- Which are the maximum flows of nitrate to aquifers that are not increasing nitrate concentration in aquifers?
- How to manage the quantity based thresholds of Nitrate Directive to real flows in the system?
- Which are the maximum nutrient levels to be applied for minimizing the flows to surface and groundwater?
- Which are the best methods for manure spreading on the land?
- What measures need to be done in order to reach awareness of farmers about nitrate pollution resulting from agricultural activities?
- What is the cost of analysis of nutrient management measures included in Code for Good Agricultural Practices?
The case study could have national influence as an on-farm demonstration program (e.g. soil testing, seeds and saplings for vegetative barriers, nutrients test on plants and soil, electric fences for controlled grazing). This finally might result in increasing the understanding and awareness of farmers about the importance of appropriate nitrogen management at farm level, in order to comply with national regulations and to protect the environment.
4. Current water governance system
Actors and stakeholders involved in water governance and their roles
The following actors and stakeholders are involved in the governance of water bodies.
- Ministry of Waters and Forests through the National Administration of Romanian Waters,
- Ministry of Public Health through local agencies,
- Ministry of Agriculture through Agency for Payments and Intervention in Agriculture,
- County Soil Testing Laboratories,
- Administrative unit halls.
Water quality control processes
There are a number of water quality control processes in operation.
- The farmer is responsible for his own land management. He takes his decisions based on information given by agricultural advisors and specialists from County Soil Testing Laboratories. They discuss possible measures and agree on the implementation of one or more measures.
- The Ministry of Public Health, through local agencies, sets targets for drinking water quality. The Ministry of Agriculture, through Agency for Payments and Intervention in Agriculture, sets targets for farm management plans.
- Water quality is regulated by Water Law. Waters have to reach target levels in order be good quality for drinking.
- Within the Common Agricultural Policy, there are cross-compliance regulations related to water protection for subsidized schemes and measures for farmers. Cross-compliance regulations are grouped as legal requirements in terms of environmental management and climate changes (SMR) and good agricultural and environmental conditions of land (GAEC). Farmers have to comply with these regulations if they apply for subsidies.
- The Ministry of Waters and Forests, through the National Administration of Romanian Waters, monitors groundwater wells from arable land and surface water quality.
- The Ministry of Public Health, through local agencies, monitors public groundwater wells.
- The Ministry of Agriculture, through Agency for Payments and Intervention in Agriculture, makes all decisions regarding the use of agri-environmental measures including norms of fertilizer use at farm level. To monitor and control implementation, the government requires farmers to report detailed fertilizer and field plans for cropping systems and fertilizer use.
- County Soil Testing Laboratories accomplish soil agro-chemical studies and fertilization plans.
- Administrative unit halls are responsible for protecting groundwaters used for drinking.
Enforcement has no role. Every stakeholder assumes that the farmers follow the official rules and regulation. If the farmers make mistakes in the application of nutrient management plans, they have to pay for the consequences of these mistakes.
Engagement and multi-actor platforms
There is no already existing platform for engagement in the case study that will be considered as a MAP in FAIRWAY and the following factors will be taken into account when establishing one.
- There is an existing on-going government financed project to implement directives.
- Regional, communal and individual platforms are not well managed
- regional: all famers (50% really small, 50% large farms).
- wish for involvement of more stakeholders in MAPs (environmental agencies are not yet involved, the school, the church),
- wish to involve communities (also mayors) in MAPs,
- wish to involve large famers (who don’t agree to follow the rules/legislation).
- The local church is seen as an important party to increase the local involvement.