Quality of drinking water was a topic of discussion at yesterday’s meeting of the Commission for the Environment, Climate Change and Energy at the Committee of the Regions. Introducing his draft opinion, rapporteur Mark Weinmeister (DE/EPP), State Secretary for European Affairs of the Land Hessen, reminded:

Access to drinking water is an important aspect of public service provision. It is local and regional authorities who, through monitoring as well as preventive and remedial measures, are responsible for guaranteeing a high quality of drinking water for citizens.

Weinmeister’s opinion responds to European Commission’s proposal for a revised Drinking Water Directive. 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 his 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.

Furthermore, the Members of the ENVE Commission discussed the issue of micro plastics and the need to monitor them, as there is growing concern about their potentially harmful effects to human health. Methods of evaluating the risks of micro plastics need to be developed further.

Weinmeister 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.

Finally, the draft opinion points out that very small water suppliers providing less than 10 m3 a day or supplying water to fewer than 50 people, unless the water is supplied as part of a commercial or public activity, are not covered by this proposal. Therefore, the Commission should take measures to guarantee that consumers supplied by such providers receive drinking water of the same quality and the same level of health protection as set out in the proposal for directive.

Weinmeister’s opinion will be put to vote at the Committee of the Regions’ May Plenary Session.

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