Committee Wants Tougher EU-wide Standards

The Environment Committee says 31 water pollutants, including dioxins and polychlorinated biphenyls, should either be considered for the European Commission's proposed list of those that must meet European Union water quality standards by 2015, or even, if classified as hazardous, be banned from EU surface waters by 2025.

In vote on a draft directive on surface water quality standards, the committee adopted several amendments.

The draft directive fixes environmental quality standards (EQS) for 33 pollutants (pesticides, heavy metals, and others), likely to be found in rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. These so-called "priority substances" were earmarked for early attention under the Water Framework Directive (WFD).

The proposed directive is the final major piece of legislation needed to support the WFD.

Member states would have to meet the water quality standards, which take the form of maximum allowable concentrations and annual average values, by 2015. Twelve of the 33 pollutants are already classified as "priority hazardous substances," to be phased out by 2025.

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