New rules on quality of tap water, lessen plastic soup adopted

The update of the legislation was inspired by the first-ever successful European Citizens’ Initiative

Photo: EP Christophe Hansen.

Parliament and Member States gave on Tuesday the go-ahead for the new drinking water directive. The new rules for high quality tap water across the EU is in response to the demands of over 1.8 million Europeans who signed the first-ever successful European Citizens’ Initiative, “Right2Water”.

Twenty years after the first drinking water directive came into force, it is time to update and tighten the threshold for certain contaminants, such as lead, EP negotiator Christophe Hansen (EPP, LU) stressed.

He also said that for the European Parliament, it was of utmost importance that the new directive makes our drinking water even safer and takes into account emerging pollutants. I therefore welcome the directive’s provisions for microplastics and endocrine disruptors such as Bisphenol A, he added.

According to the new legislation, EU countries shall ensure the free provision of water in public buildings and should encourage restaurants, canteens, and catering services to give customers water for free or for a low service fee.

Measures should be undertaken at national level to improve access to water for vulnerable groups, such as refugees, nomadic communities, homeless people, and minority cultures such as the Roma and Travellers.

To enable and encourage people to drink tap water rather than bottled water, the quality of tap water will be improved by imposing stricter limits for certain pollutants, including lead.

The EU executive have two years to draw up and monitor a list of substances or compounds of public or scientific concern to health. These will include pharmaceuticals, endocrine-disrupting compounds, and microplastics.

It shall also establish European lists indicating which substances are authorised to come into contact with drinking water.

EU countries shall ensure that measures taken to implement the new standards are based on the precautionary principle and under no circumstances lead to the deterioration of the present quality of drinking water.

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