Drinking Water Directive: EC adds norms for new and emerging substances

EU-commissioner Frans Timmermans presented the 1st of February the proposal of the revised Drinking Water Directive. Photo: European Commission

The European Commission proposes to add norms for new and emerging substances to the new Drinking Water Directive. Legislation for substances like legionella, chlorate and PFOA and PFOS have to improve the quality of drinking water in Europe. EU-commissioner Frans Timmermans presented the proposal of the revised Drinking Water Directive on the 1st of February in Brussels.

The proposal also includes the right to access to safe drinking water. This is an answer to the European Citizens' Initiative, "Right2Water", that gathered 1.6 million signatures to improve the access to safe drinking water for all Europeans.

The proposal also wants to provide consumers with clearer online information on water consumption, on the cost structure as well as on the price per litre allowing a comparison with the price of bottled water. This will be contributing to the environmental goals of reducing unnecessary plastic use and limiting the EU's carbon footprint, as well as to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Modernised law
First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: "Citizens have made their voice loud and clear through the European Citizens' Initiative, calling for action to have a guaranteed access to safe drinking water. Today we are therefore proposing to modernise our EU law, improving the quality of drinking water and increasing the access of citizens where it matters most. Together we can and must protect the health and safety of our citizens."

Access to drinking water
The new rules will require Member States to improve access for all people, especially for vulnerable and marginalised groups who currently have difficult access to drinking water. In practice, that means setting up equipment for access to drinking water in public spaces, launching campaigns to inform citizens about the quality of their water and encouraging administrations and public buildings to provide access to drinking water.

Reduce health risks

Another important change in the legislation will give the public easy, user-friendly – including online – access to information about the quality and supply of drinking water in their living area, improving confidence in tap water. According to estimates, the new measures would reduce potential health risks associated with drinking water from 4% to below 1%.

The proposal will now be reviewed by stakeholders and has to be approved by the European Parlement and the European Council. The new Drinking Water Directive will probably get into force in 2019.