New guidelines for waters intended at human consumption what is changing with the new European directive?

8 May 2018

On February 1st of 2018 a document has been issued concerning the proposal for transforming the actually into force European directive 98/83/CE that was created 20 years ago to set the quality of waters intended for human consumption.

In Italy this European directive is adopted by Legislative Decree 31/2001
In France by Decree 1220/2001 of December 20th

In Germany by Trinkwasserverordnung (TrinkwV 2001)
In Spain by Real Decreto 140/2003 of February 07th – BOE-A-2003-3596

In the past years the development of technology allowed us to have today in our hands advanced and more perceptive equipment for pollutant substances monitoring, even in case of infinitesimal traces. This development, linked with the improvement of scientific knowledges in chemical-physical and toxicologic field, made a revision of actual law regulations compulsory, with the removal of some parameters, now turned useless in a sanitary point of view, and the addition of other standards, considered today more important due to recent scientific discoveries.

This core-deep revision of this document will entail several efforts to comply, especially for all the levels of water intended at human consumption industry: from treatment to supply, to laboratory analysis, to all the filtering devices used for POU water treatment.

The document suggested by EU establishes substantial changes to the actual law, one above all for importance concerning the new parameters. Hereby you may find a general recap of changes introduced for potability parameters:

Microbiologic parameters

There is no more distinction between bottled water and all other waters intended at human consumption.
The new microbiological parameters are as follows

Parameter Value
Clostridium perfringens spores 0/100 ml
Coliform bacteria 0/100 ml
Enterococcus bacteria 0/100 ml
E.Coli 0/100 ml
Heterotrophic bacteria 22°C With no anomalous variation
Coliphages bacteria 0/100 ml

Besides the introduction of different species, we may give importance to the new parameter concerning ” Coliform bacteria”, which turns from marker parameter to microbiological parameter, for this reason we think it will be very difficult to observe a 0/100 ml value next to water counter and consequently even more difficult in the sampling point.

That’s why, for this one parameter, Italy decided to ask for changes on the law document as it believes that the condition submitted is way too hindering and difficult to reach.

Radioactivity marking parameters

All marker parameters have been eliminated as they do not have an impact on human health, for that reason they are considered of low healthcare interest.

The same could be told for radioactivity parameters that have been removed since specific legislative decrees have been written for those. (for ex. Italian Legislative Decree 15702/2016 n.28)

Chemical parameters

The list of chemical parameters has been deeply transformed since:

What will these new guidelines bring to the world of potable water treatment? The changes to parameter values and the possible removal of derogation request will require a huge effort to the authorities managing aqueducts, with different deadlines established for bigger and smaller water plants, in order to guarantee water supply complying with new law regulations.

These updates will involve bigger structures and analysis laboratories, but also POU treatment field. The control on new parameters will give the opportunity to install filtering elements with specific actions in point of use systems. This point of view could be very important if the removal of derogation request for parameters that exceed the law limits will be approved, also in domestic field where the water distribution inside a building can lead to a worsening of legionella and lead parameters, that are now regulated with specific limit values.

So, the effort will be required to everyone! For POU professionals the most important will be becoming familiar with new parameters, learning the meaning of their presence into the water and the knowledge of most effective treatment systems existent on the market.

GWS makes available for his customers its experience and knowledge if needed.