30 november 2018
Water quality is key consideration in European Parliament vote on Drinking Water Directive
On 23 October 2018, the European Parliament (EP) voted on the revision of the Drinking Water Directive (Directive 98/83/EC). The report by French MEP Michel Dantin (European People's Party) on the European Commission's proposals was adopted during an EP session in Strasbourg, with 300 votes in favour, 98 votes against and 274 abstentions. The Association of Dutch water companies (Vewin) is pleased that the EP clearly took account of the importance of clean drinking water and high-quality drinking water sources.
Protecting public health
The European Parliament had asked MEP Dantin to assess the European Commission's proposals for revising the 20-year-old European Drinking Water Directive. The aim of the Directive is to protect human health against contaminations borne by drinking water.
Clean drinking water sources
Vewin believes that the European Parliament has proposed significant improvements to the European Commission's proposal.
For example, the EP wants to establish a clear link between the Drinking Water Directive and the Water Framework Directive (WFD), which aims to ensure good quality of drinking water sources (groundwater and surface water). The EP wants Member States to be made aware of their responsibility for maintaining the quality of drinking water sources and their obligation to take appropriate measures to that end. Vewin endorses this policy; drinking water sources must also be of good quality to ensure compliance with the Drinking Water Directive.
Vewin also welcomes the EP's decision to retain the so-called 'indicator parameters', which are used to monitor the production process. They are important to establishing links between the quality of drinking water sources and the quality of the drinking water itself, and for optimally monitoring the treatment process.
Quality requirements for drinking water materials
The European Parliament also wants to implement harmonized minimum hygiene requirements for materials and products that come into contact with drinking water, such as pipes or pulverized coal used for treatment purposes. Vewin considers this a positive development, because at present the applicable requirements still differ between member states. Uniform health and hygiene criteria are necessary to be able to monitor the quality of all materials and chemicals that come into contact with drinking water.
More information to be provided
Vewin has concerns about the information requirements that the European Parliament has adopted from the European Commission's proposal, and considers them excessive. Vewin supports transparency but believes that Member States should continue to be responsible for reporting, as they currently are. The Drinking Water Directive is aimed at protecting water quality and public health, and should not include provisions for mandatory reporting on matters that are not directly related to drinking water quality, such as prices, leakage, and organization and governance.
Council of Ministers
The European Parliament has given Mr Dantin a mandate to start negotiations with the Council of Ministers, which represents the member states. The European Commission and the European Parliament intend to reach agreement before the European elections in May 2019. It is still unclear whether the member states will be able to adopt a position on the Drinking Water Directive quickly enough to make this possible.
Read the interview with rapporteur Dantin about the revision of the Drinking Water Directive.
Vewin's position on the Drinking Water Directive