Following the Commission’s proposal for the review of the EU Drinking Water Directive (DWD), published on 1 February, CEEP and its members analysed the proposed changes and worked on a first feedback from the point of view of providers of public services and SGIs in the EU.
CEEP very much supports the creation of the long-awaited link between the Drinking Water Directive and the Water Framework Directive (and its Daughter Directives) which clarifies the Member States’ responsibility to protect drinking water resources. This is a crucial step in achieving policy coherence and coordination within EU water legislation.
CEEP also welcomes the further introduction of the risk-based approach (RBA) adding to what has already been laid down in Annex II in 2015. It is very positive that both the hazard assessment of water bodies (including the catchment area) and the risk assessment of the domestic distribution system now complements the supply risk assessment. However, where the Commission proposal aims for an integrated source to tap RBA, there should be a general obligation for Member States to ensure that there is a clear and balanced distribution of responsibilities in place, tailored to the national institutional and legal framework, bearing in mind the principle of subsidiarity. Furthermore, CEEP notes that in the proposal the supply risk assessment focuses on adjusting monitoring frequency only, where a risk-based approach in water supply is an integral management tool for assessing and managing risks.
CEEP welcomes the position taken by the Commission to hold on to the high level of protection provided for by the directive regarding drinking water standards, including the continuation of the precautionary principle as a leading principle for setting drinking water quality standards.
The new legislative proposal foresees measures that go beyond the existing Directive’s scope. Those measures should always be proportional and avoid unnecessary requirements for water operators.
CEEP has some concerns regarding the proposed definition of water suppliers and the use of the term in the proposal. In some provisions it reads as if water suppliers are directly addressed, where the directive should clearly be directed at Member States only. CEEP believes legal obligations, which are addressed to Member States should not leave any legal uncertainty for possible liabilities towards water suppliers. Moreover, the proposed definition might need some amendments, as in its current wording it might include other entities than drinking water companies.
The status quo is not good enough regarding the current Article 10 on products and materials in contact with drinking water. CEEP therefore calls upon the Council and European Parliament to provide a legal baseline in the Directive for health requirements for products and materials in contact with drinking water.
CEEP notes that the former Article 9 on derogations is deleted. Although CEEP would welcome a simplification of the process of granting 3 derogations of maximum 3 years, the complete deletion of the legal instrument of derogations leaves Member States and water suppliers with the situation that temporary exceedances can no longer be embedded in a legal framework. In addition, CEEP expresses its concern about the deletion of Article 6, paragraph 2 (‘shall be deemed clause’ in relation to domestic distribution systems in non-public supplies) and the deletion of the exception for notification to consumers in case of trivial non-compliances (Article 12 of proposal). CEEP believes the proposed changes constitute a too rigid system leading to legal and practical problems.
CEEP stresses that Article 14 (and Annex IV) and the requirements on information to the public on aspects such as tariffs, investment decisions, waste water collection and treatment, as well as leakage rates, go beyond the scope and the objectives of the DWD, which should focus on water quality and the protection of human health as determined by Article 1. The principle of subsidiarity should be respected.