Nitrogen and pesticides linked to agriculture pose a threat to Europe's freshwater supply. An EU-funded project involving farmers and many other stakeholders is championing joint approaches to preserve this important resource.
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The WATERPROTECT project focuses on how farming impacts drinking water. More specifically, it is developing new tools and solutions targeting potential nitrate and pesticide pollution, in particular from intensive agriculture, in a bid to boost the uptake of management practices and mitigation measures.
The approach proposed by the researchers is one of engagement and participation. Along with farmers, the integrative framework the project set out to create includes local authorities, water utilities and consumer organisations.
The interaction among these and other stakeholders is central to the work of WATERPROTECT’s so-called action labs, which are elaborating new governance and financing models. They are also developing participatory monitoring approaches underpinned by innovative apps and collaborative tools.
Seven such case studies are in progress. Located in Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Romania and Spain, they cover areas jointly supply drinking water to nearly a million people. The partners are keen to share the insights from these collaborative undertakings, both in terms of their successes and with regard to any obstacles they may encounter.
WATERPROTECT is a three-year project that is due to end in May 2020. In addition to making its findings available to other regions, the consortium intends to translate the experience gained in the labs into concrete policy advice.