Tap water in the EU: Environmental and health considerations

Finland’s EU presidency and MEPs in the new European Parliament will have to address all relevant health concerns when it comes to drinking water rules if they want to pass the historic first citizen-led EU legislation in the next term, responding to the “Right2Water” citizens’ initiative, signed by 1.6 million people.

The principle behind the new rules on water for human consumption is simple: provide safe and affordable tap water to reduce the number of plastic bottles.

The directive is about setting quality standards at EU level, such as removing chemical pollutants and microplastics during the treatment, setting minimum water quality requirements, and identifying a number of microbiological, chemical and indicator parameters that must be monitored and tested regularly. Setting such quality standards will ensure water is safe for consumption, protecting human health from possible adverse effects.

But from a health point of view, some issues have remained open and will require answers during the negotiations. Among those is the new procedure to set hygienic requirements for materials in contact with water, to ensure no contamination takes place.

Some argue a contradiction related to the application of this approach arose in the text approved by the Council, in Annex III, dealing with Legionnaires’ diseases caused by the notorious bacterium Legionella, which could cause pneumonia. In trilogue, a compromise will need to be reached between the risk-based and hazard-based approach in testing for Legionella pneumophila.

EURACTIV invited for this high-level Forum to discuss which actions are needed to ensure safe tap water in the EU, ensuring microbiological parameters are properly regulated in all Member States.

Post Author: hatefull