Rhine Ministerial Conference adopts quantitative reduction targets for micropollutants

The 16th Rhine Ministerial Conference took place in Amsterdam on 13 February 2020. The ministries responsible for water protection in the Rhine catchment area and representatives of the European Union drew an overall positive balance of the “Rhine 2020" programme. They adopted the "Rhine 2040" programme with ambitious targets.

The targets of “Rhine 2040” concern in detail

  • species diversity
  • water quality
  • climate change
  • flood prevention and low water management

in order to manage the Rhine and its catchment sustainably and to make it more climate-resilient.

In particular, the decision to adopt quantitative reduction targets for micropollutants in order to improve the quality of the Rhine water can be considered a historical breakthrough. By the year 2040, micropollutants from municipal wastewater (sewage treatment plants), industry and agriculture are to be reduced by at least 30%. In order to be able to verify the reduction at regular intervals and, if necessary, to increase the reduction targets, the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) has been commissioned to develop an evaluation system by 2021 to provide proof of the reduction. The goal is to achieve good Rhine water quality, which will make it possible to obtain drinking water using simple, near-natural treatment processes - instead of highly technical treatment in the waterworks.

The president of the International Association of Waterworks in the Rhine Basin (IAWR), Prof. Dr. Matthias Maier, spoke in his statement of a "pioneering commitment to water protection". In view of the responsibility for the next generation, he called for the precautionary principle to be strengthened, for sources of pollution to be consistently monitored, and for full transparency with regard to the authorization and discharge of chemicals, including their transformation products.

with all relevant documents on the subject (IAWR press release, statement by the President on the RMK, link to the ministerial communiqué on the ICPR website, 12-point catalogue of measures)