Germany is one of the most industrialized nations in the world and one of the global economic leaders. Huge industrialization and advanced agriculture can however have very negative environmental impact and this has also lead to an increased pollution in four German major rivers the Elbe, Weser, Aller and Ems.
The German scientists were analyzing the concentrations of toxic chemicals and other pollutants in river water by analyzing data from official monitoring spanning from 1994 until 2004.
The scientists discovered that Germany won't be able to attain by 2015 the good chemical and ecological status of water bodies as defined by the EU Water Framework Directive mostly because of significant concentrations of pesticides and industrial chemicals in major German rivers.
The amount of pesticides and industrial chemicals in German rivers is so high that river ecosystems will very likely suffer toxic impacts which could lead to significant decline of many aquatic species.
Ralf B. Schäfer, an assistant professor at the Institute for Environmental Sciences at the University of Koblenz-Landau said that "in some cases we found worrying concentrations of substances at levels which under laboratory conditions would kill 50 per cent of water fleas and could lead to the significant decline of the algae population."
The scientists also pointed to the fact that Germany still lacks regular official monitoring which is currently being carried out only 2 or three times a year.
Some scientists like Dr von der Ohe also pointed out that the actual pollution levels might be even bigger because the monitoring data were collected using point water grab sampling which may not include all pollutants, particularly pesticides since they are in most cases released into water bodies episodically.
In order to successfully tackle river pollution (and water pollution in general) issue the scientists must first find their exact sources and to do so the official monitoring needs to be done more thoroughly and what is also important more frequently.