Group water schemes urged to prepare for new Drinking Water Directive

Risk assessment, water quality monitoring, communication and continual evaluation; these will be key aspects of the recently recast Drinking Water Directive when it is transposed into Irish legislation before the 12th January 2023.

The new Directive was a major topic of interest at September’s Rural Water Services Conference, with a video message from Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH), Darragh O’Brien TD telling delegates in attendance that: ‘The Directive introduces the obligation for member states to improve or maintain access to water intended for human consumption, with a focus on human health protection.’

With a full conference session dedicated to the implications of the recast Directive, those in attendance were given a detailed overview by DHLGH policy advisor, Dónal Cronin, who reassured group water schemes they will be guided and supported in adjusting to any new requirements.

A risk-based approach is the underpinning theme of the new Directive, with water suppliers required to carry out risk assessments throughout their supply system. Conference speakers emphasised the importance of raw water monitoring as part of this approach, something which many GWSs are already doing in preparation for the Directive’s transposition.

Minister O’Brien said: ‘My Department’s upcoming Multi-annual Rural Water Programme (MARWP) will support the implementation of the requirements of the Directive through capital funding,’ before noting how it is vitally important that uncompleted projects funded under the current MARWP are finished as speedily as possible, in order to ensure a smooth transition between both funding cycles.

Speaking during his presentation on the water safety planning approach of the new Directive, NFGWS biodiversity and development officer, Adrian Smyth, said Adrian stressed the importance of raw water monitoring in the build-up to the Directive’s transposition. A bundled approach is available for GWSs looking to begin such a programme and Adrian urged those interested to contact their local NFGWS development officer.

The presentations from this year's Rural Water Services Conference are available to watch back here.

This article originally featured in the most recent edition of the Rural Water News magazine. To read the full edition and to sign up to our magazine mailing list, click here.