BRUSSELS – The European Commission said on Thursday that it was revising its directives on drinking water to take into account the latest scientific advice in a bid to ensure a high-quality supply of tap water.
It also said it would strive to reduce plastic litter and lower the European Union’s carbon footprint.
“Safe drinking water is essential for public health and well-being, and water contamination or shortages can have serious social and economic costs,” the commission said in a statement.
The proposal, unveiled by EU Commissioners Frans Timmermans and Karmenu Vella, aims to guarantee access to good quality water as part of the European Pillar of Social rights.
It came about as a direct response to the “Right2Water” citizens’ initiative, which was signed by 1.6 million people.
The goal is to make Europeans trust their tap water as only 20 percent of citizens trust tap water outside their home country.
“Citizens have made their voice loud and clear through the European Citizens’ Initiative, calling for action to guarantee access to safe drinking water,” Timmermans said.
He added, “Together we can and must protect the health and safety of our citizens.”
Although most people living in the EU enjoy very good access to high-quality drinking water, the EC proposal adds emerging substances (Bacteria, industrial residues) to the list of criteria determining water safety, as well as legionella, based on the latest scientific knowledge and World Health Organisation recommendations.
The new rules would require Member States to improve access for all, especially vulnerable and marginalized groups.