What do we see?
In the winter of 2019-2020, the threshold values were exceeded at least once in 64% of the measurement sites. The worst category was recorded in 30% of the sites. Between 2010 and 2020, we see no obvious trend for 70% of the measurement sites where the values remain relatively constant. We do see an decrease in 19% of the measurement sites, but then we also see an increase in the remaining 11%.
What’s the aim?
In a circular model, we aim for closed material cycles. Not just because this reduces the demand for new input but also to avoid unwanted damage to the environment (e.g. through leaks). Human activities are responsible for high concentrations of substances including nitrogen and phosphate. The excessive phosphate concentrations in Flanders are mainly a historical problem: in the past, large amounts of phosphate were used for farming. These built up in the farmland and are still there today, which has a major impact on our environment. In water, for example, this leads to eutrophication, which not only disrupts the ecosystem but also has a negative impact on our drinking water, leading to a loss of valuable nutrients.
What does this indicator measure?
This indicator shows the evolution of phosphate concentrations in surface water in the agricultural regions of Flanders. It also indicates where the threshold values have been exceeded at least once.
The data is collected by the Flemish Environment Agency based on their network of measurement sites. The figures from the 760 measurement sites are evaluated between 1 July and 30 June each year (which counts as the winter). For phosphate, they measure the concentrations of orthophosphate, the dissolved form of phosphate that is present in the water and can therefore be absorbed by the organisms living there.