European Drinking Water DWD 98/83/TC directive

 1.    Background


The aim of the directive is to ensure that European citizens enjoy good quality drinking water in line with the World Health Organisation (WHO) requirement that all citizens have a right to safe drinking water.

There have been several attempts to create a single Europe wide standard in compliance with the Drinking Water Directive DWD 98/83/EC. In 1998 an initiative under the European Acceptance Scheme (EAS), with work carried out under the auspices of the European Commission (DG Enterprise), was started. This had the aim of harmonising the assessment schemes of products in contact with potable water in line with Article 10 of the Drinking Water Directive (DWD). The target was to bring greater harmonization by combining the Drinking Water Directive and the Construction Products Directive.  In particular the EAS was to standardise the quality assurance of treatments, equipment, and materials in contact with drinking water.

 Mandate 136

This mandate was issued in 2001, and revised in 2006 and required the harmonisation of standards for Construction Products in contact with water intended for human consumption, transportation, storage, and distribution right to the tap. An Expert Group, Construction Products Drinking Water (EG-CPDW) was set up to help the initiative.

So member states suspended work on their own acceptance schemes while expecting the EAS and EG-CPDW to deliver a harmonised scheme.

 4 Member States (4MS)

There appear to have been too many issues associated with the EAS for potable water. The general view was that Mandate 136 was far too wide in scope, with too many political requirements to ever deliver a unified scheme, lacked the required resources, and as a result the European Commission withdrew its support for the EAS in 2006.

So the four Member States (4MS) agreed in 2007 to pursue a common approach to the assessment of products in contact with drinking water. The long-term goal of this project is to set a pilot project as the basis for future EU regulation.

The 4 member states are France (Ministere du Travail de l’emploi et de sante); Germany(Bundersministerium fur Gesundheit); Netherlands (Ministerie van Infrastructuur en Milieu); and United Kingdom (Defra – department for environment, food and rural affairs). A fifth member, Portugal, is in the process of joining the project.

The basis for the common approach was agreed as:

  • The acceptance of the constituents used in materials in contact with drinking water
  • The testing of materials and setting acceptance levels
  • The specification of tests to be applied to products
  • Reviewing factory production control and for audit testing
  • Assessing the capabilities of certification and testing bodies

Today the four Member States still all have their own standards and acceptance tests, with the result that suppliers potentially have to have materials tested 4 times to ensure their products are accepted for use with potable water throughout Europe. (See appendix 1 for details of schemes and costs). This is patently a nonsense and a large additional cost to the suppliers, as well as creating a barrier to trade in Europe.

Members of the 4MS initiative have worked hard to agree a standard test that could satisfy everyone. At present there is no agreement between the Member States with the issues appearing to be:

  • Water sources vary dramatically across Europe and the results obtained are totally different when one material is tested using the same criteria but with different water sources.
  • There is a debate on whether it should be products that are tested or whether their constituent materials need to be approved separately.
  • One member state believes the testing should be based on the effect material has on drinking water, and not the effect of each component material.
  • The loss of income from the certified testing facilities in the 4 member states.

However despite the differences of opinion the 4MS agreed a Declaration of Intent (DOI)made in 2011, which whilst not legally binding, would appear to give the best chance of success. The objectives of the DOI are:

  • Establish convergence of the operations of the national approval systems for material and products in contact with drinking water.
  • To provide approval systems providing high uniform level of consumer protection.
  • To promote optimum use of regulatory and scientific resources.
  • To collaborate in supporting developments at an EU level and at creating consistent practice.

 CEN TC 164 WG2

In 2014 and in parallel to the 4MS initiative, the CEN TC 164 was set by the Commission in order to move towards a step-by-step approach on standards harmonization.  The group is responsible for carrying out the technical work on synchronising and detailing the tests.

The Technical committee TC 164 is well on with getting agreement on the following issues:

  • Organic materials.
  • Metallic materials.
  • Cementitious materials.
  • Other materials.
  • Test methods.

The ESA has been in contact with the chairman of TC 164, and are now an accredited Liaison Member of TC 164, and attend their technical meetings. ESA is also a member of the European Drinking Water association (EDW), formerly ICPCDW, which is also a full member of TC 164

 Article 10 of the Drinking Water Directive

DG Environment is conducting a review of Article 10 of the Drinking Water Directive, because of concerns at the lack of harmony within the EU of requirements for materials and products used in drinking water applications. ESA has formerly responded to this initiative giving details of the typical costs members encounter when having to conduct 4 versions of tests for each product to gain local approval for their use on drinking water. Details of the various costs for the 4 member state testing facilities are in Appendix 1.

Mutual Recognition

European Union of “Mutual Recognition” is a legal condition of EU membership that states that if a product or material passes an agreed test in one member state, then the other members states are bound to accept this product or material under the concept of mutual recognition.

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2.    The ESA actions and current position on the European Drinking Water directives

Following a meeting on 9th March with the European Commission’s DG GROW to discuss the background and prospects of success of the ongoing initiatives around water standards the ESA has formed a policy to act on behalf of its members.

The ESA attended various meetings in Brussels and Munich to determine our best approach.

This resulted in the ESA:

  • Becoming a Liaison Member of TC 164, and participating in their meetings in Brussels.
  • Joining the European Drinking Water industry consortium (formerly known as ICPCDW), and attending their meetings in Brussels. The European Drinking Water consortium includes all the relevant Trade Associations in Europe involved in Drinking Water.
  • Being kept fully up to date with all stakeholder events and technical meetings, and meetings with national regulators.
  • Responding to DG environments review of article 10 of the drinking water directive.

The ESA’s position is that it fully supports TC 164 work on harmonising a single pan European test for products in contact with drinking water, with the removal of the cost of meeting multiple tests. If required ESA will support the “Mutual Consent” principle

Appendix 1

European Potable Water Testing

Current Standards Used

Country Standard Approval Body Life of approval Cost of Testing
France Attestation de Conformitie Sanitaire
ACS (AFNOR XP P41-250 ACS, Carso 5 Years €5000
Germany Kunstoffe und trinkwasser
KTW DVGW, Karlsruhe 5 Years €4000
United Kingdom Water Regulations Advisory Scheme £825 to £1295
WRAS/WRC BS 6920,2000 WRAS 5 Years + £325 for certificate
Netherlands  KIWA test
 ISO 17025  KIWA Test Centre  5 Years  €1200
 USA  National Science Foundation
 NSF Ansi 61  Licensed Test houses  5 Years  $2000