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L’eau sale de Bretagne

jeudi 1er novembre 2001, par Nicolas Bégat

Cette étude très approfondie révèle de façon pointue les dégâts provoqués par les politiques d’agriculture intensive, dans cette région ouest de la France. Le nitrate envahit les nappes phréatiques et pollue l’eau dans toute la Bretagne. Des mesures au niveau local, national ou européen ont été prises, des solutions existent mais les résultats se font attendre.

April 03rd, 2001 : after a seven years long procedure involving European authorities, the French Government and an environmental association, France is condemned by the European Court of Justice for the bad quality of water in Brittany. Indeed, nitrates there regularly excess the critical concentration of 50 mg/l, fixed by a 1975 WHO/EEC regulation on drinking water. Excess nitrates are hazardous for human heath through drinking waters and cause serious environmental damages on aquatic ecosystems.
In the past decades, Brittany has developed its economy mainly agriculture. Today livestock production predominates. Water pollution by nitrates is thus clearly originated for the most part by the intensified agricultural practises.
After a description of the geographic setting and the recent evolution of Brittany’s agriculture, this paper will analyse the biophysical issues raised by nitrate pollution and how regulations and action programs at all levels from European to local try to respond to the problem.
1- Geographic & Economic Setting of Brittany’s Agriculture
Brittany is one of the 22 administrative regions of France, covering the peninsula that separates the Atlantic Ocean from the English Channel (see map, fig. 1). It is divided in 4 administrative "departments", (Ille-et-Vilaine, Côtes-d’Armor, Morbihan & Finistère). With 2.9 millions inhabitants living on 27200 km2, its density is the same as the average density in France (107 inhab/km2). Brittany’s littoral represents almost 30% of the overall coastline in France ; and its in-land relief consists of rather low smooth hills, undergoing a temperate oceanic climate characterized by low annual variations in temperature and a high humidity level.
These specific biophysical features allow traditional activities like fishing and farming to remain up to date the base of Brittany’s economy. Tourism and medium size high-tech firms have also become important in the past decades.

But Brittany is no longer the traditional poly-agricultural farmland crisscrossed by hedges & trees it used to be in the past. Post WW-II needs and so-called productivist agricultural policies encouraged an outstanding process of intensification & specialization, made possible by scientific and technological advancements, and leading to :
&Mac183; changes in cultivation practises (land regrouping, use of fertilizers, mechanization),
&Mac183; concentration in cattle farming and development of industrial production systems (detached from land in terms of feed supply and waste disposal).
In Brittany, this agricultural revolution has transformed in depth and displaced all traditional cultivations. Over the last 30 years, plant production has increased by 25% (only) while animal production has been multiplied by almost 5. Today with 5% of France’s population and territory, Brittany is the first region for cattle farming and food industry. It provides 55% of the national pork meat production, 48% of the poultry and 20% of the dairy products. Today every single inhabitant from Brittany has to live with almost 3 pigs and 34 chicken, while an average French citizen has only to deal with a quarter pig and 5 chicken...
The statistics displayed in Table 1 illustrate this evolution through the only past 12 years. On a nearly unchanged used land surface, productions have significantly increased while the number of farms has been divided in almost 2. In a few words, farms are bigger and more specialized, produce more and employ less people. For instance the evolution of livestock concentration in the past 12 years (multiplication factor of 3.5 for both pig & poultry farms), and the difference between Brittany and overall France statistics (897 pigs/farm in Brittany versus average 250 in France, & poultry : 3169 versus 584 ; year 2000), give an idea of the production growth rates and the high level of specialization of Brittany in industrial animal production.

Brittany France
Overall population 2.9 million 60 million
Surface area (km2) 27,200 550,000
Agricultural census results 1988 2000 Evolution 1988 2000 Evolution
Nb of farms with surface < 50 ha 86,500 38,500 - 55 % 934,405 538,380 - 42 %
Nb of farms with surface > 50 ha 4,100 13,200 + 222 % 82,350 125,427 + 52 %
Total 92,500 51,200 - 45 % 1,016,800 683,800 - 33 %
Cultivated lands (ha) 1,425,500 1,512,500 + 6 % 17,075,600 18,353,400 + 7 %
Prairies (ha) 1,157,000 973,800 - 16 % 14,617,700 13,000,500 - 11 %
Total 2,582,500 2,386,300 - 8 % 31,693,300 31,353,900 - 1 %
Human ressources 98,600 62,000 - 37 % 1,088,700 764,000 - 42 %
Hog Farming
Nb of farms 24,120 9,100 - 62 % 170,300 59,500 - 65 %
Nb of pigs 6,183,000 8,160,500 + 32 % 12,212,600 14,869,700 + 22 %
Average livestock / farm 256 897 + 246 % 72 250 + 248 %
Poultry
Nb of frams 99,600 31,600 - 68 % 1,159,400 495,600 - 57 %
Nb of animals 89,694,900 100,130,700 + 12 % 246,800,900 289,488,500 + 17 %
Average livestock / farm 901 3,169 + 252 % 213 584 + 174 %
Table 1 : Extracts from the results the 2 last agricultural census, 1988 & 2000 (Source : Agreste).
2- Biophysical aspects of water pollution by nitrates of agricultural origin
Such animal concentrations as the ones existing in Brittany inevitably produce stresses on the environment in many forms. This paper will focus on the impact of excess nitrates in water but others impacts can be mentioned, from local to global scale :
&Mac183; local (direct, no vector) :
o visual impact of feedlots in the landscape
o bad smell & noise nuisances
&Mac183; local to regional (soil, vegetation and water) :
o excess nutrients perturbing soil ecosystems (in particular soil acidification)
o water pollution by nitrates : from ground & stream waters to the coastal area
&Mac183; global (atmosphere) :
o 56% of released CH4 in the atmosphere from animal farming (source ADEME)

Then, considering the problem from the scope of water pollution by nitrates itself, it has to be clarified that animal farming is only one among other sources of excess nitrates, such as :
&Mac183; nitrogenous fertilizers used for cultivation also release nitrates in soils and water when used in excess
&Mac183; industry and sewage systems waste.
2.1- Water pollution
Nitrogen in fresh animal waste appears initially in organic form. It undergoes then a sequence of transformations and is washed out of the soil as nitrate, dissolved and transported in water. As for excess nitrogen from fertilizers, it is directly liberated in water under a nitrate form.
Nitrates are then either leached by rainwater to streams, particularly during humid seasons, or infiltrated down into groundwater, progressively reaching the aquifers. In a groundwater deprived of any anthropic contamination, the natural nitrate content ranges from 0.1 to 1mg/l.
The drinking water supply in Brittany is provided by both stream & ground waters in nearly equal proportions. Nitrate concentration in drinking water is regulated by the European Directive 75/440 : - guide value : 25 mg/l
- upper limit value : 50 mg/l.
In 1972, the average nitrate concentration in Breton rivers was 8 mg/l ; in 1998 it reached 40 mg/l. The chart displayed in Figure 2 shows the evolution of the annual average of nitrate contents in Breton rivers from 1971 to 1999. In almost 30 years, the value has gained an order of magnitude.
In 1999, 24 % of punctual measurements carried on in groundwater harnessing stations recorded maximum values higher than 50 mg/l (see Fig. 3). Almost half of the stations in rivers recorded maximum values higher than 50 mg/l, and 49% of normal values comprised between 25 & 50 mg/l. As a consequence, 13.3% of the Breton population were supplied with water exceeding temporarily or permanently the upper standard of 50 mg/l and 38.6% with water containing between 25 & 50 mg/l (see Fig. 4). Many harnessing points had thus to be closed in the past decade (55 in the Loire-Bretagne region for the only year 1997 !).

2.2- The sensitive hydrography of Brittany, a magnification factor
Stream waters : there is no large river associated with extended water table on the Brittany’s territory. The rivers there are autochtonous (no relation with river systems from other regions), geographically short, rapidly reaching the coast.
Ground waters : Brittany is set on the old peneplaned Armorican Massif. Rocks underlying the soil horizons are generally impermeable, mostly made of granites & old shale of Proterozoic to Paleozoic age. Subterranean waters are contained in the upper levels of altered or fractured granites. Resources are thus shallow, relatively scarce, and their absorption and dilution capacity is low, which makes them very sensitive to any contamination process, resulting in a magnification phenomenon of environmental impacts on waters.

A hydrologic field study carried on by the Regional Research Centre on Agronomy evidenced that the lifetime of nitrates in groundwater varies sensibly as a function of the physical characteristics of each basin and of the position in the basin (up or down hill), and can reach 5 to 10 years. The pollution is therefore not only diffuse in time but also in space. Moreover, once polluted the groundwater, there is physically no possibility of aquifers quality remediation. Pollutants reduction at the source thus appears not only as the most obvious but also as the unique solution to minimize the impacts of water pollution by nitrates.

2.3- Impacts & hazards associated with nitrates
Impact on drinking water. Impacts of nitrates on the drinking water quality are the most known because they cause major public health issues. At moderate concentrations, humans react with gastro-intestinal and bladder irritations or stomach flu. At higher concentration, nitrates toxicity in the human body is due to the reduction of nitrates into nitrites. By reacting with hemoglobin, nitrites forms methemoglobin, which does not transport oxygen to the tissues, and thus lead to asphyxiation. Exposure is especially dangerous for infants and children because it can be fatal.
Ecological impacts. Nitrates are very soluble and easily transportable in water. Nitrates leaches and runs-off into groundwater and rivers are thus responsible for a widespread pollution, affecting all aquatic ecosystems in rivers and coastal areas.
- Nitrates are oxygen-demanding substances, which means that they are decomposed by aerobic bacteria. In aquatic ecosystems, large populations of decomposing aerobic bacteria can degrade water quality by depleting water of dissolved oxygen, leading to fish and other forms of oxygen-demanding aquatic life to die of suffocation.
- Then, as a plant nutrient, excess nitrates can cause an abnormal proliferation of algae (called ’’green tides’’ in the coastal areas), leading to an eutrophication process, which consists of an over-enrichment of organic matter provoking a general asphyxiation of the affected ecosystems.
- Nitrates in excess give also favourable conditions for the development of toxic algae in estuaries and bays, killing shells and causing severe gastro-enteritis (Diarrhetic Shellfish Poisoning algae) or neuromuscular troubles (Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning algae) to humans. Almost every year, shell fishing -either amateur or professional- and swimming are prohibited during several weeks by local authorities in some particularly sensitive areas of Brittany’s coastline.
- More generally, nutrients surpluses may affect particularly valuable ecosystems such as those adapted to poor soil conditions, by allowing encroachment by flora and fauna which are adapted to fertile soils, therefore damaging natural ecosystems and reducing overall biodiversity.
Impact on economy. In the case of algae blooms for instance, beyond the direct cost of pollution remediation (gathering & treatment of algae masses), generally paid by local authorities, secondary impacts are undergone by local economic activities such as tourism and fishery.
As far as drinking water is concerned, Brittany also holds the first rank in Europe for denitratation treatment. Nine treatment plants are installed on drinking water production sites, their cost is mostly supported by the consumers.

2.4- Nitrogen balance
Water pollution by nitrates of agricultural origin is a typical "non-point" or diffuse pollution, which makes it difficult, first to be accurately measured at the source, and consequently to be acknowledged by farmers. Nevertheless, studies are carried out at regional scale, considering all types and sources of nitrogen, in order to assess the overall nitrogen balance.

Low hypothesis High hypothesis
Total Nitrogen Supply (tons) 374,940 411,940
Usable Surface (x 1000 ha) 1,767 1,767 Sources of Nitrogen Rate
Nitrogen supply / surface (kg/ha) 212 233 Animal waste 56.7%
Crops needs (tons) 291,555 268,584 Fertilizers 41.9%
Balance (tons) + 83,385 + 143,356 Sewage waste 0.7%
Median value 113,370 Industrial waste 0.7%
Table 2 : Nitrogen balance in Brittany in 1996 Table 3 : Sources of Nitrogen
(source : Agreste, FAO). in Brittany in 1995 (Agreste).

In Table 2, the term "Total Nitrogen Supply" refers to the nitrogen that has been added to the land by humans, it does not take the natural nitrogen compounds already present in the soil and vegetation into account. It appears very clearly that this nitrogen supply exceeds the estimated needs of crops, and in big proportions (29% or 53% more than needed, depending on the hypothesis). Table 3 shows the outstanding primacy of the agricultural contribution (98.6%) in the total nitrogen supply, in which animal waste holds the first position (56.7%).

3- Remediation & prevention actions & policies
3.1- Laws & regulations
- The French Law on Water (1992) can act as a strict criminal environmental law. According to it, any person or organization acknowledged as responsible for the release in water of any substance causing negative impacts on the environment or on public health is subjected to a fine up to 500,000 FF (around 105,000 CAD) and an up to 2 years imprisonment.
- The European Directive 75/440/EEC on drinking water quality, which laid down a 50 mg/l as the maximum authorized nitrate content and 25 mg/l as the guide value, acts as a universally acknowledged reference in terms of regulation at all levels from supranational to local. It gives for instance the European Court of Justice the competence to judge and condemn nations for non-compliance, as it did with France recently. The complaint lodged by the ERB association (Waters and Rivers of Brittany) against the French Government was based on the assessment of a repeated non-respect of this directive in Brittany’s water. If the condemnation was this time somewhat formal, a new complaint could however constrain the French Government to financial penalties.
- The Nitrates Directive, 1991.
Based on the assessment of an alarming enrichment of water in nitrates throughout many Member States, the European Union ("European Economic Community" at this time) issued a reference text in December 1991. Officially named the "Council Directive91/676/EEC concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources" (breath now !), the Nitrates Directive aimed to curb the introduction of excess amounts of nitrates into surface and ground waters from agricultural fertilizers and animal wastes. The Directive required Member States :
o to carry out monitoring of surface and ground waters to identify nitrate-polluted waters and designate vulnerable zones, by December 1993
o to establish action programs for such zones by December 1995 in order to control nitrate pollution from agricultural sources
o more generally to adopt codes of good agricultural practises
- Many other circulars, directives and decrees apply to both the use of water and agricultural practises at all levels from European to local. They are too numerous to be detailed in this paper.

3.2- Implementation of the Nitrates Directive at national scale
The implementation of the Nitrates Directive in France has been carried out in several steps and involves numerous organizations and all available types of public instruments, such as :
Policy makers components :
o Agriculture & Environment Ministries
o Local communities & authorities
o Public & industrial research centres
o Representatives of farmers
o Water Agencies, etc.

Instruments :
o Regulations
o Incentives
o Voluntary actions
o Professional advice and consulting
o Etc.

A workgroup called the Orientation Committee for the Reduction of Water Pollution by Nitrates (CORPEN in French), created in 1984 jointly by the Agriculture and Environment Ministries and regrouping all these organizations, was given the mission to conduct this work.
The first pollution assessment step, on the national territory, led to the designation of 46 % of the agricultural surface, representing 43 % of the farms, as vulnerable zones. Brittany is unique for being entirely classified as a vulnerable zone.
3.2.1- Program of Control on Pollution from Agricultural Sources : PMPOA
A set of specific actions to comply the Nitrates Directive was included in the national PMPOA program, whose implementation started in January 1994 and was planned for 10 years.
- The priority went to the control of manure storage & spreading in the vulnerable zones. The main action consists of mandatory standardization works on livestock buildings, in order to :
o prevent from waste run-off
o allow an increased storage capacity and,
o as a consequence, a strict control of manure spreading quantities and periods according to the seasonal variations of the nitrogen absorbing capacity of soils.
A precise calendar was set for this program, targeting first the biggest livestock facilities and then the smaller ones, step by step in decreasing size order. 80,000 farms in total are supposed to carry out these standardization works by the end of the program calendar.
In compensation of this new regulation compliance, farmers benefit substantial financial aids from the Government (16 %), local authorities (16 %), and the regional Water Agency (33 %). Water agencies are regional public organisms in charge with all water issues. Their financial autonomy is based on the water tax, mainly supported by industries and consumers.
- A specific set of more constraining actions was besides implemented in designated zones of structural livestock excess (ZES, where organic nitrogen supply > 170 kg/ha), aiming at excess nitrogen resorbtion :
o prohibition of extension for the biggest livestock facilities
o limitation of manure spreading quantities (applied to surface units and / or individual farms)
o biggest livestock installations subjected to a mandatory denitratation treatment
o prohibition of manure spreading during unfavourable periods (abundant rainfalls)
- At the same time, voluntary actions are carried on in the mark of the codes of good agricultural practises recommended by the European Union, supported at variable levels by public subsidies. The program called "Ferti-Mieux" (Fertilize Better) promotes in this way local initiatives for a control and monitoring of the nitrogenous fertilizers supply for cultivations. To date, 49 of such local actions are in process, involving 27,000 farmers on a total surface of 1,9 MM ha.
3.2.2- Agro-environmental policies & actions
Agro-environmental concepts and policies are not directly associated with the Nitrates Directive implementation. They appeared in 1992 consequently to a new national law on the environment and the landscape upkeep, responding to the need of harmonizing agricultural practises with the new regulations.
- The Grass Premium has been awarded to 140,000 farmers (from its beginning in 1993 to 1999) representing 5.4 MM ha in exchange of the some obligations :
o to preserve large areas (3/4 of the farm’s surface) of grassland -more environmentally and landscape friendly than cultivated crops-
o a limitation of fertilizers supply
o to keep up hedges and ditches in the preserved meadows.
- Contracts of Territorial Exploitation (CTE)
The CTE are the latest generation of agro-environmental incentives targeted at farmers, endowed with a substantial financing program (European, national and local founds). The first CTEs were signed in 2000. Conceptually, the CTEs aim to enforce the liability of local territories to define their specific economical guidelines with the idea of promoting or protecting agriculture, employment and environment. Moreover, they start to out into practise the concept of eco-conditionality of public aids to farmers.
The framework of a CTE applied to hog-farming activities, for instance, is organized according to 2 main guidelines. The first one is socio-economic, with objectives like meat quality, good cattle practises and animals well-being ; the other is territorial and environmental, dealing with the control of animal waste and the promotion of the image of local pig-farming (integration of the facilities in the landscape, public visits organization, etc.).

3.3- National & regional actions on water
3.3.1- Protection of harnessing facilities
In order to protect the quality of drinking water, new measures (Public Heath Policy, 2000) applying to harnessing facilities are being implemented. Three categories of protection parameters have been defined :
o immediate protection parameter, where lands are to be acquired by the communities to prevent from any agricultural activity
o near protection parameter, where agricultural activities are regulated and some of them may be prohibited
o distant protection parameter, where the same activities are regulated , but with more flexibility.
Such regulations on activities can be the prohibition to solid and liquid manure spreading, the prohibition to use fertilizers or others chemical products, the obligation to convert cultivated lands into meadows, etc. At the same time, campaigns of nitrate contents monitoring downstream of these facilities are intensified, and liability procedures are implemented. For instance, the non-compliance of the defined parameters and associated regulations can imply the break off of a CTE, leading to the interruption of financial subsiding.
3.3.2- Specific actions in Brittany
Apart from local actions at department level (not detailed here), and surveys / experiments carried out by researchers from regional research centres specialized in agricultural and environmental studies (like CNRS, INRA, CEMAGREF, BRGM, etc), Brittany has 2 specific and thematic programs at regional scale, conducted by the Loire-Bretagne Water Agency.
- The Bretagne Eau Pure (Pure Water in Brittany) program consists of actions for a pollution reduction at the source led in 19 sensitive hydrologic basins. Together with farmers, research centres are involved in order to introduce new technologies and methods for waste spreading and treatment, and also to monitor the distribution and migration of pollutants through the basin.
- The Littoral Program aims mostly at proceeding to an inventory of all observed alterations undergone by coastal ecosystems and their sources. Demonstration actions of nitrogen supply reduction are also conducted to curb algae blooms.

3.4- Results
In 1999, like some other Member States, France was pointed to by the European authorities because of its unsatisfying implementation of the Nitrates Directive. "The European Commission decided to make an application to the European Court of Justice against Germany & Luxembourg, and to notify a Reasoned Opinion to France, Belgium & Netherlands for non-respect of the Nitrates Directive. (...). France is reproached to have failed to identify nitrate-polluted waters, on which vulnerable zones are based, in accordance with the criteria laid down in the directive." (Press release from the European Commission, July 1999).
Results of the PMPOA, 1999
An assessment of the first 5 years of the PMPOA was issued by the French Ministry of Agriculture the same year. It stated that 45,000 farmers had been involved in the program, conformably to the calendar (45,000 on the 80,000 expected in total through the ten years initial calendar). However, the authors pointed out that, for a total of almost 3 billions of French Francs (a bit more than 600 MM CAD) :
o only 5 % of the first 45,000 involved farmers had finished the standardization works (representing only 5 % of the total national nitrogen supply)
o the improvement of agricultural practises could not be assessed
o too few indicators are available to monitor the organizational & environmental efficiency of the program
o the nitrate content had not or slightly decreased in some areas, and increased in others.
Considering that the program, though slow and complex to implement, was going in the right direction, recommendations were made to carry on with it, encouraging legal reforms, a better control of costs and the set up of organization and environmental monitoring systems.
Recommendations
A more recent assessment (2001) mandated by the French Prime Minister stresses the weakness of results for the whole set of actions aiming at reducing nitrate pollution from agricultural sources and deplores quite bitterly the lack of consistency between the objectives and accomplishments. As a consequence, the author clearly and strongly recommends :
o firm actions for the reduction of livestock
o the creation of a real water police, in charge of making farmers strictly respect all laws and regulations on water and environment
o the application of a systematic pollution tax, based on the estimated nitrogen supply, for each individual farmer
o the eco-conditionality of public subsidies to farmers.
Perspectives
The underlying principles of upstream eco-conditionality and downstream "polluter-payer" are also currently in reflection in the mark of the project of a new law on water. In the same manner as the PMPOA and Nitrates Directive, this new law will be the translation into national regulations of a European directive issued in 2000 (2000/60/EC). Among other measures, the project plans to :
o set up a survey & modeling system for ground and surface waters
o designate the water masses in need of a particular protection and implement action programs for these masses
o to develop economic evaluations
This European directive on water is part of a wider EU’s reform program called Agenda 2000, aiming at modernizing number of its key policies, among which the EU Agriculture Policy holds an outstanding place.

3.5- Discussion
The PMPOA program, when completed, will allow a real risk reduction of uncontrolled waste runs-off from livestock farms to rivers and groundwater, as well as a rational control on waste spreading quantities and periods. However it does not answer in depth to the problem of livestock overpopulation and consequent nitrogen over-excess in the most sensitive areas such as Brittany as a whole.
Effort is clearly made by policy-makers to modernize & harmonize regulations, and to respond to particular issues like water pollution by nitrates. In this way, the European Agenda 2000 leans explicitly toward more integrated and sustainable production models.
However, as claimed by environmental associations, the multiplication of new concepts and regulations will not be of any use if not enough resources (mostly human & financial) are implemented to apply, monitor and control them.
The PMPOA case is significant with respect to this problem of political consistency. The 3 billions FF devoted to its 5 first years implementation appear to be very limited when compared to the annual 50 billions FF of direct financial aids awarded to farmers ! In the same way, the 300 FF/ha grass premium mentioned in paragraph 3.2.2 has to be compared with the 2500 FF/ha awarded for fodder corn cultivation or 3500 FF/ha for irrigated proteagenous crops, the two latter being much less environmentally friendly than grass.
It is important to stress here that Agriculture in Europe, which has to be considered in the mark of the EU Agricultural Policy, is an extremely sensitive sector, from both political and economic points of view. European agriculture is wanted to be strong by its actors, particularly facing the North American one, but at the same time, the diversity of regional and national interests, sometimes in conflict the ones with the others, makes the EUAP a very complex mechanism.
In France, agriculture is highly subsidized, partly as a result of a strong lobbying action from farmers. A vast majority of them is indeed member of a powerful syndicate called FNSEA (National Federation of farmers syndicates), which represents a real political force. With representatives involved in all organizations and structures dealing with agriculture at all levels (governmental to local communities), this syndicate can really influence policy makers, and generally does it in a way that first protects the immediate interests and incomes of farmers, which means : more production, more subsidies, etc. The numbers given above reveal the unbalanced power struggle between this traditional so-called productivist model on one hand, which still widely predominates, and the promoters of more sustainable production models one the other hand.
In such a context, where subsidies have become the main driving forces of agricultural activities, the question whether farmers are ready or not to handle a more sustainable agriculture, proactive on social and environmental issues, is really worth to be asked. Such concepts are indeed relatively new and the field reality shows that they take time be integrated in practises on a regular basis.

Meanwhile soils are suffocating and water pollution by nitrates is going on without showing any clear decreasing tendency. Many good ideas and concepts to remedy the issue already exist. Clear recommendations have been made. Now it is up to the national and regional authorities to show -or not- their real political will, by making regulations more constraining (a water police, for instance, in the case of nitrate pollution), by conditioning financial aids to the respect of the environment, and by accompanying these measures with a high level of sensitization and communication to all involved ins and outs.

Sources
All data and information compiled for the redaction of this paper were extracted from websites.

Portals specialized in Agriculture :
http://www.web-agri.com/
http://www.agrisalon.com/

Statistic data :
France/Brittany : Agreste, the organism of statistics calculation at the French Government of Agriculture. Website http://www.agreste.agriculture.gouv.fr/
Europe : Eurostat, European Commission. Website http://europa.eu.int/comm/eurostat/

Research Institutes :
CEMAGREF (Agricultural and Environmental Engineering Research Centre), Regional centre in Rennes (Brittany). Website http://www.rennes.cemagref.fr/
INRA (National Research Institute in Agronomy). Website http://www.inra.fr/
CNRS (National Centre of Scientific Research)
BRGM (Geological and Hydrological Survey)
IFEN (French Institute of Environment). Website http://www.ifen.fr/

Goverment :
Ministry of Agriculture and Fishing. Website http://www.agriculture.gouv.fr/
Ministry of Environment and Territory Planning.Website www.environnement.gouv.fr/

Regional Water Agency : Agence de l’Eau Loire-Bretagne. http://www.eau-loire-bretagne.fr/

European Commission. Website http://europa.eu.int/

Food and Agriculture Organization. Website http://www.fao.org/

Farmers syndicates
FNSEA (National Federation of Farmers Syndicates). Website http://www.fnsea.fr/
Confederation Paysanne. Website http://www.confederationpaysanne.fr/

"Water and Rivers of Brittany" association. Website http://assoc.wanadoo.fr/erb/

+ many articles, mostly from national and regional newspapers (Le Monde, Ouest-France, etc)

P.-S.

Emmanuelle Piron, géologue

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