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News France condemned again for failing to meet water quality requirements

In a ruling of 31 January 2008, the Court of Justice of the European Communities (CJEC) identified the failure of France to meet its obligations under directive 98/83/CE of 3 November 1998 concerning the quality of water for human consumption, specifically the permitted thresholds for nitrates and pesticides. The Commission began proceedings against France on 23 October 2001, instructing the French government to comply. When measures were not taken by the deadline specified, the Commission has once more brought the case to court for non-compliance. Although the French government claims there has been a significant improvement in water quality in 2003 compared to 1998 and 2000, and that quality has continued to improve since 2003, the Commission argues that in three French départements, the Vendée, Deux-Sèvres, and Charente-Maritime, monitoring of potable water repeatedly show readings over the legal thresholds for nitrates and pesticides from 1998 up to the date of the new court proceedings in March 2007. Unless it takes the necessary measures to conform to the CJEC's decision, France could be taken to court again and face large fines. In September 2007, the Commission decided against bringing another CJEC case against the French government, this time over bringing drinking water supply sources in Brittany up to European standards requiring a maximum nitrate level of 0.50 mg per litre. Facing a fine of over 28 million euros, France quickly passed legislation, operational from 1 January 2008, in order to enforce measures to bring the remaining nine catchment areas into conformity with the law. In 2009 the Commission will check on the effectiveness of these measures and of the nitrate reduction plan announced in March 2007. France also risks large fines concerning residual water in urban areas, for which it had already been found guilty by the Court in 2004, for not designating sensitive zones requiring special treatment. The Commission has just decided to send France a final warning, asking it to ensure its residual water treatment plants meet the requirements of the 1991 directive.

Contact information n/a
News type Inbrief
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Source of information Environnement Magazine, France
Keyword(s) EU-WFD
Geographical coverage France
News date 12/03/2008
Working language(s) ENGLISH