Guaranteeing access to clean and safe to drink water is an extremely important aspect of concern for public health and welfare. The European Commission decided to adopt on January 23, 2024. stricter and more stringent standards for materials and products in contact with drinking water. The new regulations, which will take effect in two years, were established to further enhance safety by reducing the risk of harmful substances and preventing the growth of microorganisms.

The European Commission assures that the initiative aims to raise drinking water quality standards, will translate into the health and well-being of European Union citizens, ensuring their safety and comfort.

Drinking water regulations in the European Union

The European Union has long been committed to providing quality drinking water to its citizens. Revised in 2020. The drinking water directive is the main law in the EU governing access to high-quality resources for human consumption. Their quality must be as high as possible to protect public health. The provisions of the revised drinking water directive went into effect in January 2021.

The updated document introduced stricter water quality standards and calms concerns about the presence of contaminants, such as plastic microplastics and endocrine disruptors. In addition, the directive aims to ensure an even higher level of purity in the water flowing from taps. Member countries had until January 12 last year to implement the directives’ provisions into Polish legislation, but currently six of them have not yet done so.

Drinking water – new, safer standards

New hygiene standards for materials and products related to drinking water aim to further improve the safety and cleanliness of the resource for households across the European Union. These standards are a response to growing social demands and expectations, as well as to new challenges such as climate change and technological developments.

The updated guidelines are expected to apply to materials and products used in new water supply developments or during renovation and repair of older installations. These include items such as pipes, valves, pumps, water meters, fittings and taps. Until now, there has been little uniformity in this area in the EU, which meant that producers had to obtain different permits in each member state where they wanted to sell their products. The new rules will also facilitate the approval process previously carried out by national authorities. Products that meet the new standards will receive a European Union declaration of conformity and a special EU label, allowing them to circulate freely throughout the community without public health or environmental concerns.

Admittedly, the introduction of the new guidelines comes with various challenges, such as the need to upgrade water supply infrastructure and bring the industry up to new standards. This will take time and effort on the part of producers and national authorities responsible for overseeing drinking water quality. In order to allow for the gradual implementation of the regulation at the national level, its application has been postponed by 2 years from the effective date. For products that had already been assessed as compliant with national hygiene requirements before the regulation’s effective date, the deadline has been pushed back to December 31, 2032.

Impact on society and the environment

Increasing the safety standards of the supplied drinking water will have a positive impact not only on human health, but also on the environment. The new standards, by reducing concentrations of harmful substances and pollutants, help protect aquatic ecosystems and improve environmental quality. In addition, investments in the expansion of water supply infrastructure and advanced water treatment technologies are an important part of sustainable development and adaptation to ongoing climate change.

Safe water for future generations

Efforts to implement the new regulations are essential to ensure the long-term safety and quality of drinking water, and the outlook is promising, as the new standards represent a step forward toward a sustainable and healthy environment. This is an investment in the future that will greatly benefit both current and future generations of EU residents.

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