Drinking water at risk of extinction in A Limia?


In the last 11 years, the Galician Society of Natural History (SGHN in Galician) warned the Regional Ministry of Environment in more than 35 occasions that the proliferation of industrial farms in A Limia was having negative consequences on water quality and quantity.

In the last 11 years, the Regional Ministry of Environment has systematically ignored all SGHN allegations and granted favourable environmental impact statements for all new (or expansion of existing) industrial farm projects in A Limia.

Exercising the right to information

In accordance with current legislation guaranteeing the right of citizens to environmental information (Directive 2003/4/CE; Law 27/2006), on 25/10/2019 SGHN asked the General Directorate of Public Health (Ministry of Health) for the official analyses of the water supply systems of the municipalities of the A Limia plain over the last 5 years. 


The data for 2015 and 2016 provided by the Directorate-General of Public Health do not include the nitrate content of waters.  Analyses carried out by the Directorate-General of Public Health in 2017, 2018 and 2019 on water supplied for human consumption by the municipal supply systems in the A Limia plain show:

  • A sustained increase in the average concentration of nitrates (16.8 mg/liter in 2017; 18.0 mg/liter in 2018; 21.5 mg/liter in 2019) in all 24 supplies analysed.
  • A total of 11 values that exceed the alert value of 30 mg/liter of nitrates in supplies of:
    • Couso da Limia: 2 of 5 dates with analysis.
    • Piñeira de Arcos: 2 of 3 dates with analysis.
    • Sandiás: 1 of 5 dates with analysis.
    • Trasmiras: 1 of 2 dates with analysis
    • Vilariño das Poldras: 3 of 4 dates with analysis.
    • Vilar de Lebres: 2 dates with analysis.
  • A total of 9 values that exceed the legal limit of 50 mg/liter of nitrates in water for human consumption in supplies of:
    • Cardeita: 5 out of 7 dates with analysis.
    • Cortegada: 1 of 2 dates with analysis.
    • Piñeira de Arcos: 1 of 3 dates with analysis.
    • Sandiás: 1 of 2 dates with analysis.
    • Vilariño das Poldras: 1 of 4 dates with analysis.
Abastecementos municipais de auga con niveis elevados ou excesivos de nitratos na Limia en 2017-2019. Preme aquí para descargar a imaxe con maior resolución.
Municipal water supplies with high or excessive levels of nitrates in Limia between 2017 and 2019. Click here to download a higher resolution image.

After years of ignoring the basic principle of precaution and ignoring the repeated warnings of SGHN, the deterioration of water resources (in quality and quantity) in A Limia is no longer only an environmental problem, but also a public health problem that the competent administrations have to face.

What about the water from private wells?

But if these are the official data on water for consumption from municipal supplies, what about the water from the wells? While we wait for the competent local, regional and state authorities to finally tackle the root of the problem, at SGHN we recommend that those residents who consume water from private wells should verify as soon as possible whether or not the water is potable due to the levels of nitrates. 

In order to document the extent of the problem as accurately as possible, SGHN welcomes the submission of individual well analyses with their exact location and date to the email: sghn@sghn.org

Text translated by Sara Santos Trota (student of the Degree of Translation and Interpretation of the University of Vigo)