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Sets quality standards for drinking water quality at the tap (microbiological, chemical and organoleptic parameters) and the general obligation that drinking water must be wholesome and clean,
Obliges Member States to regular monitoring of drinking water quality and to provide to consumers adequate and up-to-date information on their drinking water quality.
Member States may exempt water supplies serving less than 50 persons or providing less than 10 m3 of drinking water per day as an average and water in food-processing undertakings where the quality of water cannot affect the wholesomeness of the foodstuff in its finished form.
The objective of the Drinking Water Directive is to protect the health of the consumers in the European Union and to make sure the water is wholesome and clean.
To make sure drinking water everywhere in the EU is healthy, clean and tasty, the Drinking Water Directive sets standards for the most common substances (so-called parameters) that can be found in drinking water. In the DWD a total of 48 microbiological and chemical parameters must be monitored and tested regularly. In principle WHO guidelines for drinking water are used as a basis for the standards in the Drinking Water Directive.
Member States may, for a limited time deviate from chemical quality standards specified in annex I. This process is called "derogation". A derogation can be granted, provided it does not constitute a potential danger to human health and provided that the supply of water intended for human consumption in the area concerned cannot be maintained by any other reasonable means.
While translating the Drinking Water Directive into their own national legislation, the Member States of the European Union can include additional requirements e.g. regulate additional substances that are relevant within their territory or set higher standards. But Member States are not allowed to set lower standards as the level of protection of human health should be the same within the whole EU. Complementing the regular information to consumers, drinking water quality has in three year cycles to be reported to the European Commission; the scope of reporting is set out in Commission Decision 95/337/EEC.
The Commission assesses the results of water quality monitoring against the standards in the Drinking Water Directive. After each reporting cycle the Commission produces a synthesis report, which summarises the quality of drinking water and its improvement at a European level. The synthesis reports are available to the public and can be downloaded on this site for the reporting period 1993-1995, for the period 1996-1998, for the period 1999-2001 and for the period 2002-2004.