ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

Water quality

During the last 30 years, the water quality of the Rhine and of many of its tributaries has distinctly improved following the many measures taken, above all the implementation of the ICPR. The pollution of the Rhine with heavy metals and other pollutants has been reduced. The oxygen content of Rhine water and the species number of micro-organisms living on the bottom of the Rhine have again risen. However, a few substances are still detected in too high concentrations in water or suspended matter.

In future, Rhine water shall be of such quality, that the target values and environmental quality standards of all substances of importance for the Rhine are sustainably respected. This is the only means of protecting communities in the Rhine, of securing drinking water production, of securing that fish are apt for human consumption and of securing the use of Rhine sediments (e.g. for landscape design and soil improvement).

In order to further improve the quality of water and suspended matter of the Rhine and the North Sea, a reduction of micro-pollutants – e.g. from settlement effluents – and the reduction of diffuse inputs of pollutants and nutrients into waters of agricultural origin or of historically polluted river sediments are required.

Did you know ...

that the major part of polluted sediments ends up in the Netherlands?

In 1987, the city of Rotterdam was obliged to annually dredge 10 million cube metres of polluted Rhine sludge from the harbour basin. This sludge was disposed of in the hazardous waste deposit site “de Slufter“. Due to improved quality of water and suspended matter, “only” 5 million cube metres have annually been dredged since 1999.