Germany:-  Policy and regulatory

Glossary Entry
Germany is a Federal Republic with 16 states (Länder), founded in 1949. Located in the centre of Europe 
it is flanked by nine neighbouring states since the unification of the two German states in 1990. Germany
covers an area of 357,000 square kilometres. The longest distance from north to south as the crow flies
is 876 km, and from west to east, 640 km. With 83 million inhabitants Germany is one of the most densely-populated
countries in Europe. Capital is Berlin.
Germany overview: Policy

Germany overview: Policy

 

In keeping with Germany’s political structure as a federal state, legislative competencies are divided between the Federal authorities and the Federal states (Länder) in different ways. In the field of environmental legislation, this also holds for the media soil and water.

 

Soil is regulated by the Federal Soil Protection Act (BBodSchG), which entered into force in 1999. The Act and the corresponding ordinance, the Federal Soil Protection and Contaminated Sites Ordinance (BBodSchV), cover both preventive soil protection and post-contamination soil protection and, hence, also the treatment of contaminated sites.

 

This legislative field is subject to competing federal legislation. The Federal Soil Protection Act assigns relevant regulatory powers to the Länder. Put more simply, the Länder may regulate areas not regulated by federal law. Thus, for example, the inventorying of contaminated sites comes under the regulatory responsibility of the Länder whilst the setting of precautionary, trigger and action levels is regulated by the Federation. For this reason, there is not only the federal law, but each Land also has its own soil protection law.

 

In the field of water, the Federation may only enact framework legislation. It has done so with the Federal Water Act (WHG). This framework is fleshed out by the Länder’s own water laws.

 

For contaminated sites, but also in the case of other substance inputs to soil, transfer to groundwater is often the most prominent effects pathway and in most cases it is also the relevant starting point for remediation. Therefore, the water-soil legislation interface is particularly important for the cleanup of such sites.

 

Whilst German soil protection legislation regulates the question whether cleanup must be performed in such cases, water legislation is responsible for mandating how this must be done and what qualitative requirements must be met. In Germany, there is the principle of full groundwater protection as well as a general requirement that groundwater quality must not deteriorate. However, this principle is often difficult to realise where damage to groundwater has already occurred. The efficiency and costs of groundwater rehabilitation measures impose real limits here. This, and the site-specific conditions, are one reason why remediation target values for groundwater are set on a case-by-case basis. Issues currently under discussion in this context are insignificance thresholds, which are to mark the occurrence of groundwater contamination, as well as the leachate prognosis, which is to assist in estimating the contaminant load that enters groundwater.

 

 

Key Documents

 

Federal Soil Protection Act (BBodSchG) of 17 March 1998

BBodSchG - Bundes-Bodenschutzgesetz vom 17. März 1998

German: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/bbodschg/

English: http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/altlast/web1/berichte/pdf/bbodschg.pdf

 

Federal Soil Protection and Contaminated Sites Ordinance (BBodSchV) of 12 July 1999

BBodSchV - Bundes-Bodenschutz- und Altlastenverordnung vom 12. Juli 1999

German: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/bbodschv/

English: http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/altlast/web1/berichte/pdf/bbodschv-engl.pdf

 

Federal Water Act

WHG - Wasserhaushaltsgesetz

German: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/whg/index.html

English: http://www.goethe.de/in/download/dengl/umwelt-e.pdf

 

Waste Water Charges Act

AbwAG  - Abwasserabgabengesetz

German: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/abwag/index.html

English: http://www.goethe.de/in/download/dengl/umwelt-e.pdf

 

Waste Water Ordinance

AbwV - Abwasserverordnung

German: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/abwv/index.html

 

Groundwater Ordinance

GrWV – Grundwasserverordnung

German: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/grwv/index.html

 

Detergents and Cleaners Act

Gesetz über die Umweltverträglichkeit von Wasch- und Reinigungsmitteln 

German: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/waschmg/index.html

 

Drinking Water Ordinance

TrinkWV - Trinkwasserverordnung

German: http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/trinkwv_2001/index.html

 

Use of Fertilisers Ordinance

DüngeV - Düngemittelverordnung

http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/d_ngev/index.html

 

 


Useful Web Links

 

German texts of law online in German

http://bundesrecht.juris.de/bundesrecht/GESAMT_index.html

 

German texts of law online in English translation

http://www.carob.org/german-law.html

 

Web site “Contaminated sites” of Federal Environmental Agency Germany

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/altlast/web1/estart.htm

 

Web site “Water Protection of Federal Environmental Agency Germany

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm

 

Federal Water Act

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#1

 

Waste Water Charges Act

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#2

 

Waste Water Ordinance

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#3

 

Groundwater Ordinance

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#4

 

Detergents and Cleaners Act

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#5

 

Infection Protection Act

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#6

 

Drinking Water Ordinance

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#7

 

Use of Fertilisers Ordinance

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#8

 

Water resources legislation in the Federal States

http://www.umweltbundesamt.de/water/themen/gwr.htm#9

 

 


List of Abbreviations

 

Abbreviation

Description

BBodSchG

Bundes-Bodenschutzgesetz

BBodSchV

Bundes-Bodenschutz- und Altlastenverordnung

WHG

Wasserhaushaltsgesetz

 

List of Key Technical Terms

 

Term

Description

Länder

Federal States

Land

Singular of „Länder“, one Federal state

Bundes-Bodenschutzgesetz

Federal Soil Conservation Act

Bundes-Bodenschutz- und Altlastenversordnung

Soil Conservation and Contaminated Site Ordinance

Wasserhaushaltsgesetz

Federal Water Act

 

 

 

Authors
Maike Hauschild
UBA, Germany

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