The opinion responds to European Commission’s proposal for a revised Drinking Water Directive, which can be considered (in part) as a response to the European Citizens’ Initiative ‘Right to Water’. The objective is to continue to ensure a high-quality of water intended for human consumption, taking into account the latest scientific and technical findings.
In this draft opinion, the rapporteur criticises the Commission for setting lower health-related guideline values than those recommended by the World Health Organisation. In his view, this could create uncertainty and could provoke concerns amongst consumers – not just about basic levels of health protection, but also about what a substance’s relevance to health means. Moreover, the opinion underlines that access to water for human consumption is an aspect of public service provision and therefore it often falls within the remits of local authorities to ensure its quality. They should therefore be involved in the decision-making, risk assessment and risk management activities. Micro plastics, which are defined as particles between 1nm and 5mm in size with high polymer content, are also addressed giving the growing concern about their potentially harmful effects to human health. According to the rapporteur, methods of evaluating the risks of micro plastics need to be developed further. In order to improve the situation of the quality of drinking water, the rapporteur calls for enhanced cooperation between local and regional authorities in the Member States and water supply companies in order to better recognise and prevent dangers linked to the use of drinking-water resources.
With this opinion, the EU Committee of Regions makes important recommendations to improve Commission's proposal for a revision on the Drinking Water Directive with regard to local and regional realities. Roles and responsibilities between stakeholders are more clearly defined, implementation is enhanced and objectives strike balance between costs and benefits.