Drinking Water Directive

24-07-2017

The Drinking Water Directive (DWD) sets quality standards for drinking water and requires that Member States ensure monitoring and compliance with these standards. By and large, it has been successful, best exemplified by the high, and increasing, levels of compliance across the European Union (EU) with the microbiological, chemical and indicator parameters and values set in the DWD. Notwithstanding this overall success, evidence collected over the past years, most notably through evaluation as well as public and stakeholder consultation, confirm the existence of challenges. These include an outdated list of parameters and parametric values; over-reliance on compliance testing at the end of the water supply chain (at the tap) and related lack of a risk-based approach to managing water quality; problems related to water quality in small water supplies; lack of connection to public water networks for many citizens; problems related to water contact materials; as well as a lack of information for citizens. Although European Commission Directive 2015/1787 recently introduced elements of a risk-based approach, the current text of the directive does not appear to integrate the World Health Organization guidelines on drinking water quality sufficiently, both in terms of parameters and parametric values (which have not been updated in the DWD since 1998), as well as the lack of a comprehensive risk-based approach in water quality management that would systematically address potential risks throughout the water supply chain. The European Commission is expected to make a proposal to amend the directive in late 2017.

The Drinking Water Directive (DWD) sets quality standards for drinking water and requires that Member States ensure monitoring and compliance with these standards. By and large, it has been successful, best exemplified by the high, and increasing, levels of compliance across the European Union (EU) with the microbiological, chemical and indicator parameters and values set in the DWD. Notwithstanding this overall success, evidence collected over the past years, most notably through evaluation as well as public and stakeholder consultation, confirm the existence of challenges. These include an outdated list of parameters and parametric values; over-reliance on compliance testing at the end of the water supply chain (at the tap) and related lack of a risk-based approach to managing water quality; problems related to water quality in small water supplies; lack of connection to public water networks for many citizens; problems related to water contact materials; as well as a lack of information for citizens. Although European Commission Directive 2015/1787 recently introduced elements of a risk-based approach, the current text of the directive does not appear to integrate the World Health Organization guidelines on drinking water quality sufficiently, both in terms of parameters and parametric values (which have not been updated in the DWD since 1998), as well as the lack of a comprehensive risk-based approach in water quality management that would systematically address potential risks throughout the water supply chain. The European Commission is expected to make a proposal to amend the directive in late 2017.