New Drinking Water Regulations to enhance standards from source to tap
The Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Darragh O’Brien TD, has signed new Drinking Water Regulations to protect human health by enhancing drinking water standards from source to tap and to ensure it is wholesome and clean. The standards come into effect this month.
The new drinking water regulations are directed towards water suppliers such as Uisce Éireann and group water schemes. Relevant authorities, including the Environmental Protection Agency and Commission for the Regulation of Utilities, will oversee the activities of these water suppliers.
The new regulations, the European Union (Drinking Water) Regulations 2023, come into effect through the transposition of EU Directive 2020/2184 into Irish Legislation. The regulations enhance existing requirements to protect human health by laying down detailed and clear directions regarding the management of water intended for human consumption and access to water, in particular for marginalised groups.
Minister O’Brien commented: “Water is such a basic right and access to good quality drinking water is a key public service. These new regulations will add additional quality measures to continue to ensure that our drinking water remains wholesome and clean. Guided by an Expert Working Group of all relevant stakeholders providing professional advice, we have developed – and will now implement – regulations which will ensure we comply with EU standards and, crucially, provide high quality water supplies to the people of Ireland.”
The Minister of State for Heritage and Electoral Reform at the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, Malcolm Noonan TD, welcomed the protections, and said: “Access to clean, safe water to drink is a basic need for everyone. I welcome these enhanced protections, which bring us further in ensuring the highest quality from source to tap by improving standards, updating monitoring parameters, assessing leaks in the system and introducing penalties for pollution or contamination of a drinking water source.”
The key measures in the new regulations include:
- Overarching application of a risk-based approach to water safety. This is divided across the provision of water from source to tap through:
- Risk assessment and risk management of the catchment areas for abstraction points of water;
- Risk assessment and risk management of the supply system;
- Risk assessment of domestic distribution systems.
- Updating the list of parameters monitored in drinking water.
- Implementation of a ‘watch list’ of parameters which are of concern in respect of impact on human health and their presence in drinking water.
- Minimum hygiene requirements for materials that come into contact with water.
- Minimum requirements for treatment chemicals and filter media that come into contact with water.
- Increasing access to water intended for human consumption in particular for vulnerable and marginalised groups.
- Information to the public on water quality.
- Requirement for water suppliers to assess water leakage levels in their distribution network.
- Broadening of the regulations concerning Penalties and Prosecutions to include offences in relation to pollution or contamination of a source of water intended for human consumption.
The regulations include an exemption for individual supplies that are providing less than 10m3 (10,000) litres a day or supplying less than 50 persons.
By transposing EU Directive 2020/2184 via the new Drinking Water Regulations, Ireland complies with its EU obligations and key domestic legislation for drinking water management is enhanced and updated.