A Firm of Corporate Solutions and Environmental Awareness.

Generic Reference Levels of water contamination


The Hydrographic Confederation of the Ebro River (CHE in Spanish), an autonomous body attached to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Environment (Acronym MAGRAMA in Spanish) has completed a study on the “Generic Reference Levels” (GRL – NGR in Spanish) of contaminants present in underground waters of the river basin that deteriorate the quality of aquifers and pose a risk for human health. This is the first exercise of this nature intended to calculate the concentration of the main contaminants present in the Spanish Intra Community Basins.

Articles 23 and 92 (d) and (g) of Royal Decree Law (RDL) 1/2001, of July 20, that approved the restatement of the Water Law set forth that the Basin Authorities are responsible for Managing and controlling the Hydraulic Public Domain, expressly mandating that its main purposes and objectives in such regard are to [among others] ,

“assure a progressive reduction of contamination of underground waters, avoid any additional contamination and accumulation of toxic or dangerous compounds in the sub-soil or prevent any other accumulation that may be responsible for degrading the hydraulic public domain”…… […]”.

Article 118 of the Restatement of the Water Law provides that in the event of damage to the hydraulic public domain, those responsible for the degradation of the resources may be forced to remedy the damages caused to the public domain and to restore the environment to its previous natural state. However, at present, there are no environmental quality norms on underground waters for the largest part of contaminating substances, which is to the prejudice of the possibility of approving recovery or remedy standards for contaminated sites.

In this regard, the Water Quality Department of the Confederation has completed the work aimed at setting forth generic reference levels for an array of substances with a view to subsequently using them as a reference in processing dossiers referred to the decontamination of aquifers.

In particular, the CHE has calculated the so called “No-Risk Generic Values” (VGNR in Spanish) and the Generic Intervention Values (VGI in Spanish) for some 52 contaminants (metals, pesticides and hydroarbons).

The former refer to the concentrations that are not likely to imply a risk for individuals receiving or using underground waters; which values are thus considered to be the target values applied in connection with decontaminating procedures,

In turn, the  “Generic Intervention Values” are the thresholds as of which remedy becomes mandatory until the No Risk level is achieved.

The web site of the CHE (www.chebro.es) lists the Generic Reference Values for the quality of underground waters. The relevant contents are available by following the link http://goo.gl/v7I0pV


Back to read more reports