Consumers to Reap Benefit of More Stringent Protection of Drinking Water

Water remains safe and affordable, while Member States will improve access to water for all under EU’s new Drinking Water Directive, finalised in the Council last week.

There were three goals in revising the directive: adapt the legislation to new challenges by updating the list of quality parameters, implementing WHO’s Water Safety Plan approach and increase the transparency of water services.

“Now the EU and Europe’s water suppliers are truly on the same page. Consumers have always come first for us, and aligning our mutual goals of consumer and environmental protection prioritises health, affordability and, crucially, access” said EurEau President Claudia Castell-Exner.
Europe’s drinking water suppliers are satisfied with the final text of the directive.

What consumers will not see but will most certainly benefit from are the additional measures that different players from national authorities to property owners will enact.

First of these is that the new legislation makes the risk assessment and management proposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) compulsory, thereby establishing a link between the Water Framework Directive - that safeguards the quality of water resources – and the proper maintenance of the domestic installation. This makes the protection of human health as guaranteed by the Drinking Water Directive a reality.

Second of all, the Commission will adopt a Watch List to monitor contaminants of emerging concern – another important tool to protect, or where necessary to, restore drinking water resources. Water suppliers need the support of the competent authorities to rely on drinking water resources of good status.

EurEau welcomes the very stringent quality requirements, as these prioritise consumer health. EurEau calls for these requirements to be translated into equally stringent control-at-source measures in order to make the Precautionary Principle a reality and to avoid costly end-of-pipe-treatment.

The new directive set thresholds for the complex group of PFAS. EurEau asks policy makers to swiftly implement the group restriction under REACH as announced in the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. EurEau recommends the appropriate and reasonable implementation of the quality standards by Member States taking into account the technical risk management solutions to tackle PFAS substances.

But it’s not just the water in our pipes that is targeted. All materials and products that carry our water to us are included, thanks to the establishment of EU-wide hygienic requirements for the materials that come into contact with drinking water. EurEau advocated for these since the revision process was announced in 2014. It is a major achievement for the protection of our health, for ensuring that public money is spent on products that are fit-for-purpose and for the creation of a single market for these products.

The new directive is fit for purpose and will significantly contribute to consumer and environmental protection for years to come if it is properly implemented and ambitiously supported by the Member States.

Source: EurEau

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