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Environment and health
According to the information included in the river basin management plans, 51 percent of the surface water bodies are currently considered to be of high or good ecological quality. The main cause of inadequate surface water quality is eutrophication due to pollution from point and diffuse sources, morphological changes in rivers and an influx of biogens from neighbouring countries via transboundary watercourses.
Since the beginning of the 1990s the annual average concentration of nitrogen in rivers has decreased in Daugava, Gauja and Venta. In Lielupe, the concentration of nitrogen is higher due to intensive agriculture in this region. However, the recent trend indicates a small increase in nitrogen concentrations in all rivers. More than 70 percent of the total nitrogen and more than 40 percent of the total phosphorus inland load is caused by various human activities. The main source of nitrogen is agriculture while the main source of phosphorus is municipal and industrial wastewater (EEA, 2015).
Water pollution in wells may be due to their placement at insufficient distances from the organic or bacteriological pollution sources (cattle-sheds, toilets, etc.). The reasons for water quality being non-compliant with required standards were mostly due to high iron content and organoleptic qualities (ECMC, 2000).
Water protection is one of the main priorities in the environmental protection policy of the country. Currently good results have already been achieved. Wastewater treatment has been improved significantly (MoERD, 2016).
Sea water intrusion has been observed in the Famenian aquifer system in Liepaja in the southwest of the country. It was caused by very intensive abstraction of groundwater. Indirect intrusion of sea water through Daugava river bed is observed in the Arukula-Amata aquifer system in the centre of Riga region. In both sites groundwater bodies have been identified as being at risk (LEGMA, 2005).