Agricultural Runoff in Norway: The Problem, the Regulations, and the Role of Wetlands

  • Anne-Grete Buseth Blankenberg
  • Ketil HaarstadEmail author
  • Adam M. Paruch


Agricultural runoff contains amounts of sediments, nutrients, pesticides, and microbes causing water quality problems. Best Management Practices (BMP) are necessary but often insufficient to achieve the requirements set by the environmental goals in the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and to achieve good water status for all water bodies within 2020.

Here we discuss the problems associated with agricultural runoff in Norway, the regulations, and the role of the wetlands. Despite the fact that constructed wetlands (CWs) in Norway are small, studies have shown that in Nordic climate CWs and vegetated buffer zones in first- and second-order streams are good supplements to BMP when it comes to removing and retaining sediments, nutrients, and pesticides. Having a system of agricultural subsidies allows the authorities some leverage in pursuing environmental and other objectives that would otherwise be difficult.

CWs are an important measure for agriculture runoff, and during the last 20 years, more than 900 CWs were built in Norway. The water quality in agricultural areas is regulated mainly by the Norwegian Pollution Act and the Water Framework Directive. The regulation of pesticides is based on action plans and incentives. Studies have shown that for Nordic climatic conditions wetlands can be as effective as advanced treatment systems in removing pesticides from water. The CWs needs adjustment to local conditions and to the specific pollution to be treated.


Agricultural runoff Constructed wetlands Diffuse pollution Sediments Nutrients Phosphorus Nitrogen Pesticides Pathogens 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne-Grete Buseth Blankenberg
    • 1
  • Ketil Haarstad
    • 1
    Email author
  • Adam M. Paruch
    • 1
  1. 1.Bioforsk, Norwegian Institute for Agricultural and Environmental ResearchAasNorway

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