ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

Water quality

The water quality of the Rhine and its tributaries has improved considerably thanks to the exemplary cooperation of the states in the Rhine catchment area. The assessment of the "Rhine 2020" programme, adopted in 2001, makes clear that many of the goals have been achieved or set in motion.

For example, the load of heavy metals and other pollutants in the Rhine has decreased. The nitrogen load from the Rhine catchment area into the North Sea has been reduced through the expansion of municipal and industrial wastewater treatment plants. Inputs of metals, which had already been significantly reduced between 1987 and 2000, could be kept low and further reduced. In 2019, the ICPR recommendations for the reduction of micropollutants were finalised and published. By 2040, micropollutants are to be reduced by at least 30 %.

The inputs of pesticides could be significantly reduced by new laws and regulations in the states in the Rhine catchment. The communication on the International Warning and Alarm Plan Rhine (IWAP) was updated. Of the 22 risk areas identified in the Sediment Management Plan 2009, remediation was successfully completed at ten sites. The quantitative status of the groundwater bodies is good almost area-wide and the chemical status is also largely good.

The unachieved goals of the programme "Rhine 2020" require further efforts within the framework of the implementation of the ICPR programme "Rhine 2040", which was adopted at the 16th Conference of Rhine Ministers in 2020.

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.