Drinking water directive


Drinking water directive

The European Drinking Water Directive (DWD), Council Directive 98/83/EC concerns the quality of water intended for human consumption and forms part of the regulation of Water supply and sanitation in the European Union.

The Directive is intended to protect human health by laying down healthiness and purity requirements which must be met by drinking water within the Community (see water quality). It applies to all water intended for human consumption apart from natural mineral waters and waters which are medicinal products.

Member States shall ensure that such drinking water:

  • does not contain any concentration of micro-organisms, parasites or any other substance which constitutes a potential human health risk;
  • meets the minimum requirements (microbiological and chemical parameters and those relating to radioactivity) laid down by the directive.
  • They will take any other action needed in order to guarantee the healthiness and purity of water intended for human consumption.

In setting contaminant levels the directive applies the precautionary principle. For example, the EU contaminant levels for pesticides are up to 20 times lower than those in the WHO drinking water guidelines,[1] because the EU directive not only aims at protecting human health but also the environment. The WHO contaminant levels themselves are already set so that there would be no potential risk if the contaminant was absorbed continuously over a person's lifetime.[2] EU drinking water standards and cases where these standards are temporarily exceeded by a small margin should be interpreted in this context.

With effect from Dec 2003, Directive 80/778/EC was repealed and replaced by 98/83/EC. [3] The new directive saw the number of parameters reduced whilst allowing member to add parameters such as magnesium, total hardness, phenols, zinc, phosphate, calcium and chlorite.[4]

The directive requires member states to regularly monitor the quality of water intended for human consumption by using the methods of analysis specified in the directive, or equivalent methods. Member states also have to publish drinking water quality reports every three years, and the European Commission is to publish a summary report. Within five years Member States had to comply with the Directive. Exemptions can be granted on a temporary basis, provided that they do not affect human health.

UK

In the UK, the Drinking Water Inspectorate is responsible for reporting on drinking water quality to the European Union.[5]

The Water Resources Act 1991 was used to introduce the Drinking water directive into UK law.

References

  1. ^ World Health Organisation:Guidelines for drinking-water quality, third edition, incorporating first and second addenda, accessed on May 6, 2010
  2. ^ (French) Centre d'Information sur l'Eau:Les normes de qualité de l'eau potable sont très rigoureuses, accessed on May 6, 2010
  3. ^ Eionet: Legislative instrument details: New Drinking Water Directive (consolidated)
  4. ^ "Europe paves the way for revision of the Drinking Water Directive", Water 21, Journal of the International Water Association, August 2006, p. 18
  5. ^ The European Commission's Environment DG web site. Accessed 5 October 2007

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