The European Commission is giving all 15 member states a decade to meet new exacting water quality standards for all their groundwater, rivers, lakes, estuaries and coastal areas. In the UK, the River Thames is a clean-up success story. The national environment agency now descibes it as a ‘wildlife super highway’. Controls on sewage and other effluents and futuristic, re-oxygenating ‘blubber’ boats have transformed it from a nearly dead waterway in London to the cleanest metropolitan watercourse in Europe. On the flip side, Portugal’s tourist industry has failed to develop facilities to deal with the waste from the rising numbers of visitors. Portugal must make major investments in water treatment facilities to meet the Commission’s rigorous standards. Former Eastern Bloc countries will also have to measure up. But for Romania – which is at the end of the queue of applicants to join the European Union – disaster strikes as a cyanide spill decimates river life.
Films in this series