Defra consults on upgrades to water quality rules

The government is consulting on planned changes to water quality regulations in England to align them with amendments to the European Union (EU) Drinking Water Directive.

The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has proposed changes to the 2016 drinking water regulations which themselves transpose EU directives on the quality of water intended for human consumption. Defra’s proposals reflect changes to those EU directives which have been recently updated to reflect the World Health Organisation’s risk-based principles for sampling and analysis of drinking water supply.

Defra has also put forward for consultation other alterations to the existing rules in England “to add clarity and improve certain aspects of the regulations.”

Defra said in addition to the alignment of rules with risk-based principles the “main points to note” in the consultation – which closes 24 October 2017 – are:

  • a new table for analytical performance characteristics and clarification on the standards to be met;

  • changes to the methods of analysis to be used for certain parameters;

  • a requirement for the collection, transportation and analysis of samples to be carried out in accordance with EN ISO/IEC 17024 or EN ISO/IEC 17025 or another internationally recognised standard;

  • clarification on the methodology required in sampling for lead, copper or nickel analysis;

  • changes in the timing of samples from tankers distributing a short-term supply and addition to the records that retail licensees need to prepare and maintain;

  • changes to the fees local authorities can charge for activities relating to carrying out their duties with respect to private water supplies;

  • clarification of the criteria for satisfying a notice served; and

  • providing local authorities the powers to perform corrective work.