Lawmakers backed rules to improve tap water quality, cut plastic litter

The maximum limits for certain pollutants are tightened

With an overwhelming majority the EP Environment Committee approved on Tuesday the deal with the Council on the drinking water directive and adopted a resolution demanding EU legislation on water be correctly implemented.

The new rules will improve the quality of tap water by tightening the maximum limits for certain pollutants such as lead and harmful bacteria. They also aim to cut plastic litter by encouraging the use of tap water. This could be done by providing water free of charge in public buildings or for a low service fee, and to customers in restaurants, canteens, and catering services.

In a resolution on the implementation of EU water legislation MEPs agree with the Commission’s assessment that the Water Framework Directive (WFD) is fit for purpose and should not be revised. But they strongly regret that half of the bodies of water in the EU are still not in good condition and that the objectives of the WFD have not yet been reached.

This is mainly due to inadequate funding, particularly slow implementation, and insufficient enforcement. The precautionary and polluter-pays principles are not being implemented properly, and many member states are using exemptions too broadly, they say.

The resolution underlines that the WFD objectives need to be better integrated into sectoral policies, particularly in agriculture, transport and energy in order to be fully compliant with the WFD and for all surface and ground waters to achieve ‘good status’ by 2027 at the latest.

MEPs urge member states to reduce the use of fertiliser and pesticides and call for such targets to be integrated and implemented in the national Strategic Plans under the EU’s farm policy. Additional action regarding chemicals and pollutants, water pricing policies, hydropower and urban wastewater treatment is needed, lawmakers say.

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