New drinking water regulations imminent

Efforts to transpose the European recast Drinking Water Directive have ramped up considerably in recent weeks as the ever-approaching deadline of the 12th January 2023 looms closer for member states to have the directive fully transposed into national legislation.

The Expert Working Group, established by the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage (DHLGH) to assist with this task, has been meeting regularly to consider, review and debate a final draft of the new Drinking Water Regulations.

It is intended to have the new regulations presented to the Minister before the end of the year for consideration and sign-off in advance of the deadline.


In addition, the established sub-groups focusing on particular areas of the directive have now turned their attention to producing draft guidance documentation in relation to implementation of the Directive.

It is intended that all working groups will be retained during the initial regulations implementation phase, should any issues need to be resolved. Further details on the final regulations will be covered in the spring edition of Rural Water News.

European Commission

Elsewhere, the European Commission has proposed amendments to a number of other European directives aimed at providing greater protection measures for surface and groundwater.

Published in late October, its proposals include updates to the list of water pollutants in both the Water Framework Directive and Groundwater Directive as well as changes to the quality standards for a number of pollutants already listed at present.

Listed substances and parameters are designed to complement the revised Drinking Water Directive (DWD) and thus help to improve the quality of drinking water sources.


Similar to the recast DWD, newly listed substances include pesticides and industrial chemicals, along with the group of per- and polyfluo-roalkyl substances (PFAS) commonly referred to as ‘forever chemicals’. Some pharmaceuticals and antibiotics have also been added, while it proposes the development of a common methodology to measure and monitor microplastics and antimicrobial resistance genes in water, in advance of setting limits.

The proposed amendments would see a more harmonised reporting methodology and better access to water quality data across member states.

The Commission’s directive was published in conjunction with other proposals for revisions to the Ambient Air Quality Directives and Urban Wastewater Treatment Directive (UWWTD).

All of the Commission’s proposals will now be considered by the European Parliament and Council through its normal legislative procedure. If adopted, certain aspects will take effect progressively to allow member states and authorities time to adapt and invest where needed.

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