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New EU legislation to improve quality and access to drinking water

New requirements on the quality of and access to drinking water are becoming the norm across the European Union, with the revised Drinking Water Directive now transposed into national legislation. The new rules will ensure one of the highest standards in the world for drinking water, in line with the zero pollution ambition announced in the European Green Deal. This also responds to the first-ever successful European Citizens’ Initiative, Right2Water, which gathered 1.6 million signatures in support of improving access to safe drinking water for all Europeans.

“As of today, Europeans can be confident that the quality of the water they are drinking is of the highest standards,” said Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginius Sinkevičius. “We are tackling dangerous chemicals and microplastics that end up in drinking water, making it safe for us to drink and safe for the environment. I hope that with improved confidence in tap water, citizens can also contribute to reducing plastic waste from bottled water and marine litter.”

To ensure the high quality of drinking water, the Drinking Water Directive includes updated safety standards, introduces a methodology to identify and manage quality risks in the whole water supply chain, establishes a watch list of emerging substances such as microplastics, endocrine disruptors, as well as new types of chemicals to be monitored and introduces conformity provisions for products to be used in contact with drinking water.

The new directive tackles water leakages as now on average 23 per cent of the treated water is lost during distribution in the EU. The Directive also includes new provisions that require Member States to improve and maintain access to drinking water for all, and for vulnerable and marginalised groups in particular.

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