U.S.A. and European regulations regarding levels of phosphates being released into the environment are based upon the role of phosphorus as a nutrient chemical. The EU Directive 2000/60/EC for "establishing a framework for community action in the field of water policy" sets strict guidelines for monitoring, control, and limiting release of nutrient species into groundwater, rivers and streams, estuarine, and coastal waters.1 The deadline for EU member states to implement this directive was set at 22nd December 2003. The Directive aims to regulate and contribute to a progressive reduction of emissions of all hazardous substances, including excessive nutrients into water bodies and to promote common principles among member states to coordinate efforts to improve the quality and quantity of water bodies for sustainable future usage. The Directive is also in place to control future transboundary water problems and stop further reduction in quality of currently polluted water bodies. The Directive calls for monitoring of water bodies under a number of headings, including biological elements, hydromorphological elements supporting the biological elements, chemical and physico-chemical elements supporting the biological elements, and specific pollutants. Nutrient conditions (and therefore phosphate levels) are included with the chemical and physico-chemical category. In river systems the Directive classifies as "high status" those waters where nutrient concentrations remain within the range normally associated with undisturbed conditions. Rivers classified as having "good status" have nutrient levels which do not affect the functioning of the ecosystem and the achievement of values specified under biological quality requirements.
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