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Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 
on the quality of water intended for human consumption
Official Journal L 330 , 05/12/1998 P. 0032 - 0054

THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION,
Having regard to the Treaty establishing the European Community and, in particular, Article 130s(1) thereof,
Having regard to the proposal from the Commission (1),
Having regard to the opinion of the Economic and Social Committee (2),
Having regard to the opinion of the Committee of the Regions (3),
Acting in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 189c (4),
(1) Whereas it is necessary to adapt Council Directive 80/778/EEC of 15 July 1980 relating to the quality of water intended for human consumption (5) to scientific and technological progress; whereas experience gained from implementing that Directive shows that it is necessary to create an appropriately flexible and transparent legal framework for Member States to address failures to meet the standards; whereas, furthermore, that Directive should be re-examined in the light of the Treaty on European Union and in particular the principle of subsidiarity; 
(2) Whereas in keeping with Article 3b of the Treaty, which provides that no Community action should go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives of the Treaty, it is necessary to revise Directive 80/778/EEC so as to focus on compliance with essential quality and health parameters, leaving Member States free to add other parameters if they see fit; 
(3) Whereas, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, Community action must support and supplement action by the competent authorities in the Member States;
(4) Whereas, in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, the natural and socio-economic differences between the regions of the Union require that most decisions on monitoring, analysis, and the measures to be taken to redress failures be taken at a local, regional or national level insofar as those differences do not detract from the establishment of the framework of laws, regulations and administrative provisions laid down in this Directive; 
(5) Whereas Community standards for essential and preventive health-related quality parameters in water intended for human consumption are necessary if minimum environmental-quality goals to be achieved in connection with other Community measures are to be defined so that the sustainable use of water intended for human consumption may be safeguarded and promoted; 
(6) Whereas, in view of the importance of the quality of water intended for human consumption for human health, it is necessary to lay down at Community level the essential quality standards with which water intended for that purpose must comply; 
(7) Whereas it is necessary to include water used in the food industry unless it can be established that the use of such water does not affect the wholesomeness of the finished product; 
(8) Whereas to enable water-supply undertakings to meet the quality standards for drinking water, appropriate water-protection measures should be applied to ensure that surface and groundwater is kept clean; whereas the same goal can be achieved by appropriate water-treatment measures to be applied before supply; 
(9) Whereas the coherence of European water policy presupposes that a suitable water framework Directive will be adopted in due course; 
(10) Whereas it is necessary to exclude from the scope of this Directive natural mineral waters and waters which are medicinal products, since special rules for those types of water have been established; 
(11) Whereas measures are required for all parameters directly relevant to health and for other parameters if a deterioration in quality has occurred; whereas, furthermore, such measures should be carefully coordinated with the implementation of Council Directive 91/414/EEC of 15 July 1991 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market (6) and Directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 February 1998 concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market (7); 
(12) Whereas it is necessary to set individual parametric values for substances which are important throughout the Community at a level strict enough to ensure that this Directive's purpose can be achieved; 
(13) Whereas the parametric values are based on the scientific knowledge available and the precautionary principle has also been taken into account; whereas those values have been selected to ensure that water intended for human consumption can be consumed safely on a life-long basis, and thus represent a high level of health protection; 
(14) Whereas a balance should be struck to prevent both microbiological and chemical risks; whereas, to that end, and in the light of a future review of the parametric values, the establishment of parametric values applicable to water intended for human consumption should be based on public-health considerations and on a method of assessing risk; 
(15) Whereas there is at present insufficient evidence on which to base parametric values for endocrine-disrupting chemicals at Community level, yet there is increasing concern regarding the potential impact on humans and wildlife of the effects of substances harmful to health; 
(16) Whereas in particular the standards in Annex I are generally based on the World Health Organisation's 'Guidelines for drinking water quality`, and the opinion of the Commission's Scientific Advisory Committee to examine the toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemical compounds;
(17) Whereas Member States must set values for other additional parameters not included in Annex I where that is necessary to protect human health within their territories;
(18) Whereas Member States may set values for other additional parameters not included in Annex I where that is deemed necessary for the purpose of ensuring the quality of the production, distribution and inspection of water intended for human consumption; 
(19) Whereas, when Member States deem it necessary to adopt standards more stringent than those set out in Annex I, Parts A and B, or standards for additional parameters not included in Annex I but necessary to protect human health, they must notify the Commission of those standards; 
(20) Whereas Member States are bound, when introducing or maintaining more stringent protection measures, to respect the principles and rules of the Treaty, as they are interpreted by the Court of Justice; 
(21) Whereas the parametric values are to be complied with at the point where water intended for human consumption is made available to the appropriate user; 
(22) Whereas the quality of water intended for human consumption can be influenced by the domestic distribution system; whereas, furthermore, it is recognised that neither the domestic distribution system nor its maintenance may be the responsibility of the Member States;
(23) Whereas each Member State should establish monitoring programmes to check that water intended for human consumption meets the requirements of this Directive; whereas such monitoring programmes should be appropriate to local needs and should meet the minimum monitoring requirements laid down in this Directive; 
(24) Whereas the methods used to analyse the quality of water intended for human consumption should be such as to ensure that the results obtained are reliable and comparable; 
(25) Whereas, in the event of non-compliance with the standards imposed by this Directive the Member State concerned should investigate the cause and ensure that the necessary remedial action is taken as soon as possible to restore the quality of the water; 
(26) Whereas it is important to prevent contaminated water causing a potential danger to human health; whereas the supply of such water should be prohibited or its use restricted; 
(27) Whereas, in the event of non-compliance with a parameter that has an indicator function, the Member State concerned must consider whether that non-compliance poses any risk to human health; whereas it should take remedial action to restore the quality of the water where that is necessary to protect human health; 
(28) Whereas, should such remedial action be necessary to restore the quality of water intended for human consumption, in accordance with Article 130r(2) of the Treaty, priority should be given to action which rectifies the problem at source; 
(29) Whereas Member States should be authorised, under certain conditions, to grant derogations from this Directive; whereas, furthermore, it is necessary to establish a proper framework for such derogations, provided that they must not constitute a potential danger to human health and provided that the supply of water intended for human consumption in the area concerned cannot otherwise be maintained by any other reasonable means; 
(30) Whereas, since the preparation or distribution of water intended for human consumption may involve the use of certain substances or materials, rules are required to govern the use thereof in order to avoid possible harmful effects on human health; 
(31) Whereas scientific and technical progress may necessitate rapid adaptation of the technical requirements laid down in Annexes II and III; whereas, furthermore, in order to facilitate application of the measures required for that purpose, provision should be made for a procedure under which the Commission can adopt such adaptations with the assistance of a committee composed of representatives of the Member States;
(32) Whereas consumers should be adequately and appropriately informed of the quality of water intended for human consumption, of any derogations granted by the Member States and of any remedial action taken by the competent authorities; whereas, furthermore, consideration should be given both to the technical and statistical needs of the Commission, and to the rights of the individual to obtain adequate information concerning the quality of water intended for human consumption; 
(33) Whereas, in exceptional circumstances and for geographically defined areas, it may be necessary to allow Member States a more extensive timescale for compliance with certain provisions of this Directive; 
(34) Whereas this Directive should not affect the obligations of the Member States as to the time limit for transposition into national law, or as to application, as shown in Annex IV,
HAS ADOPTED THIS DIRECTIVE:
 

Article 1 Objective 
1. This Directive concerns the quality of water intended for human consumption.
2. The objective of this Directive shall be to protect human health from the adverse effects of any contamination of water intended for human consumption by ensuring that it is wholesome and clean.

Article 2 Definitions 
For the purposes of this Directive:
1. 'water intended for human consumption` shall mean:
(a) all water either in its original state or after treatment, intended for drinking, cooking, food preparation or other domestic purposes, regardless of its origin and whether it is supplied from a distribution network, from a tanker, or in bottles or containers; 
(b) all water used in any food-production undertaking for the manufacture, processing, preservation or marketing of products or substances intended for human consumption unless the competent national authorities are satisfied that the quality of the water cannot affect the wholesomeness of the foodstuff in its finished form; 
2. 'domestic distribution system` shall mean the pipework, fittings and appliances which are installed between the taps that are normally used for human consumption and the distribution network but only if they are not the responsibility of the water supplier, in its capacity as a water supplier, according to the relevant national law.

Article 3 Exemptions 
1. This Directive shall not apply to:
(a) natural mineral waters recognised as such by the competent national authorities, in accordance with Council Directive 80/777/EEC of 15 July 1980 on the approximation of the laws of the Member States relating to the exploitation and marketing of natural mineral waters (8); 
(b) waters which are medicinal products within the meaning of Council Directive 65/65/EEC of 26 January 1965 on the approximation of provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action relating to medicinal products (9).
2. Member States may exempt from the provisions of this Directive:
(a) water intended exclusively for those purposes for which the competent authorities are satisfied that the quality of the water has no influence, either directly or indirectly, on the health of the consumers concerned; 
(b) water intended for human consumption from an individual supply providing less than 10 m a day as an average or serving fewer than 50 persons, unless the water is supplied as part of a commercial or public activity.
3. Member States that have recourse to the exemptions provided for in paragraph 2(b) shall ensure that the population concerned is informed thereof and of any action that can be taken to protect human health from the adverse effects resulting from any contamination of water intended for human consumption. In addition, when a potential danger to human health arising out of the quality of such water is apparent, the population concerned shall promptly be given appropriate advice.

Article 4 General obligations 
1. Without prejudice to their obligations under other Community provisions, Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that water intended for human consumption is wholesome and clean. For the purposes of the minimum requirements of this Directive, water intended for human consumption shall be wholesome and clean if it:
(a) is free from any micro-organisms and parasites and from any substances which, in numbers or concentrations, constitute a potential danger to human health, and
(b) meets the minimum requirements set out in Annex I, Parts A and B; 
and if, in accordance with the relevant provisions of Articles 5 to 8 and 10 and in accordance with the Treaty, Member States take all other measures necessary to ensure that water intended for human consumption complies with the requirements of this Directive.
2. Member States shall ensure that the measures taken to implement this Directive in no circumstances have the effect of allowing, directly or indirectly, either any deterioration of the present quality of water intended for human consumption so far as that is relevant for the protection of human health or any increase in the pollution of waters used for the production of drinking water.

Article 5 Quality standards 
1. Member States shall set values applicable to water intended for human consumption for the parameters set out in Annex I.
2. The values set in accordance with paragraph 1 shall not be less stringent than those set out in Annex I. As regards the parameters set out in Annex I, Part C, the values need be fixed only for monitoring purposes and for the fulfilment of the obligations imposed in Article 8.
3. A Member State shall set values for additional parameters not included in Annex I where the protection of human health within its national territory or part of it so requires. The values set should, as a minimum, satisfy the requirements of Article 4(1)(a).

Article 6 Point of compliance 
1. The parametric values set in accordance with Article 5 shall be complied with:
(a) in the case of water supplied from a distribution network, at the point, within premises or an establishment, at which it emerges from the taps that are normally used for human consumption; 
(b) in the case of water supplied from a tanker, at the point at which it emerges from the tanker; 
(c) in the case of water put into bottles or containers intended for sale, at the point at which the water is put into the bottles or containers; 
(d) in the case of water used in a food-production undertaking, at the point where the water is used in the undertaking.
2. In the case of water covered by paragraph 1(a), Member States shall be deemed to have fulfilled their obligations under this Article and under Articles 4 and 8(2) where it can be established that non-compliance with the parametric values set in accordance with Article 5 is due to the domestic distribution system or the maintenance thereof except in premises and establishments where water is supplied to the public, such as schools, hospitals and restaurants.
3. Where paragraph 2 applies and there is a risk that water covered by paragraph 1(a) would not comply with the parametric values established in accordance with Article 5, Member States shall nevertheless ensure that:
(a) appropriate measures are taken to reduce or eliminate the risk of non-compliance with the parametric values, such as advising property owners of any possible remedial action they could take, and/or
other measures, such as appropriate treatment techniques, are taken to change the nature or properties of the water before it is supplied so as to reduce or eliminate the risk of the water not complying with the parametric values after supply;
and
(b) the consumers concerned are duly informed and advised of any possible additional remedial action that they should take.

Article 7 Monitoring 
1. Member States shall take all measures necessary to ensure that regular monitoring of the quality of water intended for human consumption is carried out, in order to check that the water available to consumers meets the requirements of this Directive and in particular the parametric values set in accordance with Article 5. Samples should be taken so that they are representative of the quality of the water consumed throughout the year. In addition, Member States shall take all measures necessary to ensure that, where disinfection forms part of the preparation or distribution of water intended for human consumption, the efficiency of the disinfection treatment applied is verified, and that any contamination from disinfection by-products is kept as low as possible without compromising the disinfection.
2. To meet the obligations imposed in paragraph 1, appropriate monitoring programmes shall be established by the competent authorities for all water intended for human consumption. Those monitoring programmes shall meet the minimum requirements set out in Annex II.
3. The sampling points shall be determined by the competent authorities and shall meet the relevant requirements set out in Annex II.
4. Community guidelines for the monitoring prescribed in this Article may be drawn up in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 12.
5 (a) Member States shall comply with the specifications for the analyses of parameters set out in Annex III.
(b) Methods other than those specified in Annex III, Part 1, may be used, providing it can be demonstrated that the results obtained are at least as reliable as those produced by the methods specified. Member States which have recourse to alternative methods shall provide the Commission with all relevant information concerning such methods and their equivalence.
(c) For those parameters listed in Annex III, Parts 2 and 3, any method of analysis may be used provided that it meets the requirements set out therein.
6. Member States shall ensure that additional monitoring is carried out on a case-by-case basis of substances and micro-organisms for which no parametric value has been set in accordance with Article 5, if there is reason to suspect that they may be present in amounts or numbers which constitute a potential danger to human health.

Article 8 Remedial action and restrictions in use 
1. Member States shall ensure that any failure to meet the parametric values set in accordance with Article 5 is immediately investigated in order to identify the cause.
2. If, despite the measures taken to meet the obligations imposed in Article 4(1), water intended for human consumption does not meet the parametric values set in accordance with Article 5, and subject to Article 6(2), the Member State concerned shall ensure that the necessary remedial action is taken as soon as possible to restore its quality and shall give priority to their enforcement action, having regard inter alia to the extent to which the relevant parametric value has been exceeded and to the potential danger to human health.
3. Whether or not any failure to meet the parametric values has occurred, Member States shall ensure that any supply of water intended for human consumption which constitutes a potential danger to human health is prohibited or its use restricted or such other action is taken as is necessary to protect human health. In such cases consumers shall be informed promptly thereof and given the necessary advice.
4. The competent authorities or other relevant bodies shall decide what action under paragraph 3 should be taken, bearing in mind the risks to human health which would be caused by an interruption of the supply or a restriction in the use of water intended for human consumption.
5. Member States may establish guidelines to assist the competent authorities to fulfil their obligations under paragraph 4.
6. In the event of non-compliance with the parametric values or with the specifications set out in Annex I, Part C, Member States shall consider whether that non-compliance poses any risk to human health. They shall take remedial action to restore the quality of the water where that is necessary to protect human health.
7. Member States shall ensure that, where remedial action is taken, consumers are notified except where the competent authorities consider the non-compliance with the parametric value to be trivial.

Article 9 Derogations 
1. Member States may provide for derogations from the parametric values set out in Annex I, Part B, or set in accordance with Article 5(3), up to a maximum value to be determined by them, provided no derogation constitutes a potential danger to human health and provided that the supply of water intended for human consumption in the area concerned cannot otherwise be maintained by any other reasonable means. Derogations shall be limited to as short a time as possible and shall not exceed three years, towards the end of which a review shall be conducted to determine whether sufficient progress has been made. Where a Member State intends to grant a second derogation, it shall communicate the review, along with the grounds for its decision on the second derogation, to the Commission. No such second derogation shall exceed three years.
2. In exceptional circumstances, a Member State may ask the Commission for a third derogation for a period not exceeding three years. The Commission shall take a decision on any such request within three months.
3. Any derogation granted in accordance with paragraphs 1 or 2 shall specify the following:
(a) the grounds for the derogation; 
(b) the parameter concerned, previous relevant monitoring results, and the maximum permissible value under the derogation; 
(c) the geographical area, the quantity of water supplied each day, the population concerned and whether or not any relevant food-production undertaking would be affected; 
(d) an appropriate monitoring scheme, with an increased monitoring frequency where necessary; 
(e) a summary of the plan for the necessary remedial action, including a timetable for the work and an estimate of the cost and provisions for reviewing; 
(f) the required duration of the derogation.
4. If the competent authorities consider the non-compliance with the parametric value to be trivial, and if action taken in accordance with Article 8(2) is sufficient to remedy the problem within 30 days, the requirements of paragraph 3 need not be applied.
In that event, only the maximum permissible value for the parameter concerned and the time allowed to remedy the problem shall be set by the competent authorities or other relevant bodies.
5. Recourse may no longer be had to paragraph 4 if failure to comply with any one parametric value for a given water supply has occurred on more than 30 days on aggregate during the previous 12 months.
6. Any Member State which has recourse to the derogations provided for in this Article shall ensure that the population affected by any such derogation is promptly informed in an appropriate manner of the derogation and of the conditions governing it. In addition the Member State shall, where necessary, ensure that advice is given to particular population groups for which the derogation could present a special risk.
These obligations shall not apply in the circumstances described in paragraph 4 unless the competent authorities decide otherwise.
7. With the exception of derogations granted in accordance with paragraph 4 a Member State shall inform the Commission within two months of any derogation concerning an individual supply of water exceeding 1 000 m a day as an average or serving more than 5 000 persons, including the information specified in paragraph 3.
8. This Article shall not apply to water intended for human consumption offered for sale in bottles or containers.

Article 10 Quality assurance of treatment, equipment and materials 
Member States shall take all measures necessary to ensure that no substances or materials for new installations used in the preparation or distribution of water intended for human consumption or impurities associated with such substances or materials for new installations remain in water intended for human consumption in concentrations higher than is necessary for the purpose of their use and do not, either directly or indirectly, reduce the protection of human health provided for in this Directive; the interpretative document and technical specifications pursuant to Article 3 and Article 4 (1) of Council Directive 89/106/EEC of 21 December 1988 on the approximation of laws, regulations and administrative provisions of the Member States relating to construction products (10) shall respect the requirements of this Directive.

Article 11 Review of Annexes 
1. At least every five years, the Commission shall review Annex I in the light of scientific and technical progress and shall make proposals for amendments, where necessary, under the procedure laid down in Article 189c of the Treaty.
2. At least every five years, the Commission shall adapt Annexes II and III to scientific and technical progress. Such changes as are necessary shall be adopted in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 12.

Article 12 Committee procedure 
1. The Commission shall be assisted by a committee composed of representatives of the Member States and chaired by a Commission representative.
2. The Commission representative shall submit to the committee a draft of the measures to be taken. The committee shall deliver its opinion on the draft within a time limit which the chairman may lay down according to the urgency of the matter. The opinion shall be delivered by the majority laid down in Article 148(2) of the Treaty in the case of decisions which the Council is required to adopt on a proposal from the Commission. The votes of the representatives of the Member States within the committee shall be weighted in the manner set out in that Article. The chairman shall not vote.
3. The Commission shall adopt measures which shall apply immediately. However, if those measures are not in accordance with the committee's opinion, the Commission shall communicate them to the Council forthwith. In that event:
(a) the Commission shall defer application of the measures which it has adopted for a period of three months from the date of communication; 
(b) the Council, acting by a qualified majority, may take a different decision within the time limit referred to in point (a).

Article 13 Information and reporting 
1. Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that adequate and up-to-date information on the quality of water intended for human consumption is available to consumers.
2. Without prejudice to Council Directive 90/313/EEC of 7 June 1990 on the freedom of access to information on the environment (11), each Member State shall publish a report every three years on the quality of water intended for human consumption with the objective of informing consumers. The first report shall cover the years 2002, 2003 and 2004. Each report shall include, as a minimum, all individual supplies of water exceeding 1 000 m a day as an average or serving more than 5 000 persons and it shall cover three calendar years and be published within one calendar year of the end of the reporting period.
3. Member States shall send their reports to the Commission within two months of their publication.
4. The formats and the minimum information for the reports provided for in paragraph 2 shall be determined having special regard to the measures referred to in Article 3(2), Article 5(2) and (3), Article 7(2), Article 8, Article 9(6) and (7) and 15(1), and shall if necessary be amended in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 12.
5. The Commission shall examine the Member States' reports and, every three years, publish a synthesis report on the quality of water intended for human consumption in the Community. That report shall be published within nine months of the receipt of the Member States' reports.
6. Together with the first report on this Directive as mentioned in paragraph 2, Member States shall also produce a report to be forwarded to the Commission on the measures they have taken or plan to take to fulfill their obligations pursuant to Article 6(3) and Annex I, Part B, note 10. The Commission shall submit, as appropriate, a proposal on the format of this report in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 12.

Article 14 Timescale for compliance 
Member States shall take the measures necessary to ensure that the quality of water intended for human consumption complies with this Directive within five years of its entry into force, without prejudice to Notes 2, 4 and 10 in Annex I, Part B.

Article 15 Exceptional circumstances 
1. A Member State may, in exceptional circumstances and for geographically defined areas, submit a special request to the Commission for a period longer than that laid down in Article 14. The additional period shall not exceed three years, towards the end of which a review shall be carried out and forwarded to the Commission which may, on the basis of that review, permit a second additional period of up to three years. This provision shall not apply to water intended for human consumption offered for sale in bottles or containers.
2. Any such request, grounds for which shall be given, shall set out the difficulties experienced and include, as a minimum, all the information specified in Article 9(3).
3. The Commission shall examine that request in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 12.
4. Any Member State which has recourse to this Article shall ensure that the population affected by its request is promptly informed in an appropriate manner of the outcome of that request. In addition, the Member State shall, where necessary, ensure that advice is given to particular population groups for which the request could present a special risk.

Article 16 Repeal 
1. Directive 80/778/EEC is hereby repealed with effect from five years after the entry into force of this Directive. Subject to paragraph 2, this repeal shall be without prejudice to Member States' obligations regarding deadlines for transposition into national law and for application as shown in Annex IV.
Any reference to the Directive repealed shall be construed as a reference to this Directive and shall be read in accordance with the correlation table set out in Annex V.
2. As soon as a Member State has brought into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive and has taken the measures provided for in Article 14, this Directive, not Directive 80/778/EEC, shall apply to the quality of water intended for human consumption in that Member State.

Article 17 Transposition into national law 
1. Member States shall bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with this Directive within two years of its entry into force. They shall forthwith inform the Commission thereof.
When the Member States adopt those measures, these shall contain references to this Directive or shall be accompanied by such references on the occasion of their official publication. The methods of making such references shall be laid down by the Member States.
2. The Member States shall communicate to the Commission the texts of the provisions of national law which they adopt in the field covered by this Directive.

Article 18 Entry into force 
This Directive shall enter into force on the 20th day following its publication in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

Article 19 Addressees 
This Directive is addressed to the Member States.

Done at Brussels, 3 November 1998.
For the Council
The President
B. PRAMMER

(1) OJ C 131, 30.5.1995, p. 5 and
OJ C 213, 15.7.1997, p. 8.
(2) OJ C 82, 19.3.1996, p. 64.
(3) OJ C 100, 2.4.1996, p. 134.
(4) Opinion of the European Parliament of 12 December 1996 (OJ C 20, 20.1.1997, p. 133), Council common position of 19 December 1997 (OJ C 91, 26.3.1998, p. 1) and Decision of the European Parliament of 13 May 1998 (OJ C 167, 1.6.1998, p. 92).
(5) OJ L 229, 30.8.1980, p. 11. Directive as last amended by the 1994 Act of Accession.
(6) OJ L 230, 19.8.1991, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Commission Directive 96/68/EC (OJ L 277, 30.10.1996, p. 25).
(7) OJ L 123, 24.4.1998, p. 1.
(8) OJ L 229, 30.8.1980, p. 1. Directive as last amended by Directive 96/70/EC (OJ L 299, 23.11.1996, p. 26).
(9) OJ 22 9.2.1965, p. 369. Directive as last amended by Directive 93/39/EEC (OJ L 214, 24.8.1993, p. 22).
(10) OJ L 40, 11.2.1989, p. 12. Directive as last amended by Directive 93/68/EEC (OJ L 220, 30.8.1993, p. 1).
(11) OJ L 158, 23.6.1990, p. 56.
 
 

ANNEX I 

PARAMETERS AND PARAMETRIC VALUES 

PART A 
>TABLE POSITION>
The following applies to water offered for sale in bottles or containers:
>TABLE POSITION>
 

PART B 
>TABLE POSITION>
 

PART C
>TABLE POSITION>
 
 
 

ANNEX II 

MONITORING 

TABLE A Parameters to be analysed 
1. Check monitoring
The purpose of check monitoring is regularly to provide information on the organoleptic and microbiological quality of the water supplied for human consumption as well as information on the effectiveness of drinking-water treatment (particularly of disinfection) where it is used, in order to determine whether or not water intended for human consumption complies with the relevant parametric values laid down in this Directive.
The following parameters must be subject to check monitoring. Member States may add other parameters to this list if they deem it appropriate.
Aluminium (Note 1)
Ammonium
Colour
Conductivity
Clostridium perfringens (including spores) (Note 2)
Escherichia coli (E. coli)
Hydrogen ion concentration
Iron (Note 1)
Nitrite (Note 3)
Odour
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (Note 4)
Taste
Colony count 22 C and 37 C (Note 4)
Coliform bacteria
Turbidity
Note 1: Necessary only when used as flocculant (1*).
Note 2: Necessary only if the water originates from or is influenced by surface water (2*).
Note 3: Necessary only when chloramination is used as a disinfectant (3*).
Note 4: Necessary only in the case of water offered for sale in bottles or containers.
2. Audit monitoring
The purpose of audit monitoring is to provide the information necessary to determine whether or not all of the Directive's parametric values are being complied with. All parameters set in accordance with Article 5(2) and (3) must be subject to audit monitoring unless it can be established by the competent authorities, for a period of time to be determined by them, that a parameter is not likely to be present in a given supply in concentrations which could lead to the risk of a breach of the relevant parametric value. This paragraph does not apply to the parameters for radioactivity, which, subject to Notes 8, 9 and 10 in Annex I, Part C, will be monitored in accordance with monitoring requirements adopted under Article 12.
 

TABLE B1 Minimum frequency of sampling and analyses for water intended for human consumption supplied from a distribution network or from a tanker or used in a food-production undertaking
Member States must take samples at the points of compliance as defined in Article 6(1) to ensure that water intended for human consumption meets the requirements of the Directive. However, in the case of a distribution network, a Member State may take samples within the supply zone or at the treatment works for particular parameters if it can be demonstrated that there would be no adverse change to the measured value of the parameters concerned.
>TABLE POSITION>
Note 1: A supply zone is a geographically defined area within which water intended for human consumption comes from one or more sources and within which water quality may be considered as being approximately uniform.
Note 2: The volumes are calculated as averages taken over a calendar year. A Member State may use the number of inhabitants in a supply zone instead of the volume of water to determine the minimum frequency, assuming a water consumption of 200 l/day/capita.
Note 3: In the event of intermittent short-term supply the monitoring frequency of water distributed by tankers is to be decided by the Member State concerned.
Note 4: For the different parameters in Annex I, a Member State may reduce the number of samples specified in the table if:
(a) the values of the results obtained from samples taken during a period of at least two successive years are constant and significantly better than the limits laid down in Annex I, and
(b) no factor is likely to cause a deterioration of the quality of the water.
The lowest frequency applied must not be less than 50 % of the number of samples specified in the table except in the particular case of note 6.
Note 5: As far as possible, the number of samples should be distributed equally in time and location.
Note 6: The frequency is to be decided by the Member State concerned.
 

TABLE B2 Minimum frequency of sampling and analysis for water put into bottles or containers intended for sale 
>TABLE POSITION>

(1*) In all other cases, the parameters are in the list for audit monitoring.
 
 
 

ANNEX III 

SPECIFICATIONS FOR THE ANALYSIS OF PARAMETERS 
Each Member State must ensure that any laboratory at which samples are analysed has a system of analytical quality control that is subject from time to time to checking by a person who is not under the control of the laboratory and who is approved by the competent authority for that purpose.
1. PARAMETERS FOR WHICH METHODS OF ANALYSIS ARE SPECIFIED
The following principles for methods of microbiological parameters are given either for reference whenever a CEN/ISO method is given or for guidance, pending the possible future adoption, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 12, of further CEN/ISO international methods for these parameters. Member States may use alternative methods, providing the provisions of Article 7(5) are met.
Coliform bacteria and Escherichia coli (E. coli) (ISO 9308-1)
Enterococci (ISO 7899-2)
Pseudomonas aeruginosa (prEN ISO 12780)
Enumeration of culturable microorganisms - Colony count 22 C (prEN ISO 6222)
Enumeration of culturable microorganisms - Colony count 37 C (prEN ISO 6222)
Clostridium perfringens (including spores)
Membrane filtration followed by anaerobic incubation of the membrane on m-CP agar (Note 1) at 44 1 C for 21 3 hours. Count opaque yellow colonies that turn pink or red after exposure to ammonium hydroxide vapours for 20 to 30 seconds.
Note 1: The composition of m-CP agar is:
>TABLE POSITION>
Dissolve the ingredients of the basal medium, adjust pH to 7,6 and autoclave at 121 C for 15 minutes. Allow the medium to cool and add:
>TABLE POSITION>
2. PARAMETERS FOR WHICH PERFORMANCE CHARACTERISTICS ARE SPECIFIED
2.1. For the following parameters, the specified performance characteristics are that the method of analysis used must, as a minimum, be capable of measuring concentrations equal to the parametric value with a trueness, precision and limit of detection specified. Whatever the sensitivity of the method of analysis used, the result must be expressed using at least the same number of decimals as for the parametric value considered in Annex I, Parts B and C.
>TABLE POSITION>
2.2. For hydrogen ion concentration the specified performance characteristics are that the method of analysis used must be capable of measuring concentrations equal to the parametric value with a trueness of 0,2 pH unit and a precision of 0,2 pH unit.
Note 1 (1*): Trueness is the systematic error and is the difference between the mean value of the large number of repeated measurements and the true value.
Note 2 (2*): Precision is the random error and is usually expressed as the standard deviation (within and between batch) of the spread of results about the mean. Acceptable precision is twice the relative standard deviation.
Note 3: Limit of detection is either:
- three times the relative within batch standard deviation of a natural sample containing a low concentration of the parameter,
or
- five times the relative within batch standard deviation of a blank sample.
Note 4: The method should determine total cyanide in all forms.
Note 5: Oxidation should be carried out for 10 minutes at 100 C under acid conditions using permanganate.
Note 6: The performance characteristics apply to each individual pesticide and will depend on the pesticide concerned. The limit of detection may not be achievable for all pesticides at present, but Member States should strive to achieve this standard.
Note 7: The performance characteristics apply to the individual substances specified at 25 % of the parametric value in Annex I.
Note 8: The performance characteristics apply to the individual substances specified at 50 % of the parametric value in Annex I.
3. PARAMETERS FOR WHICH NO METHOD OF ANALYSIS IS SPECIFIED
Colour
Odour
Taste
Total organic carbon
Turbidity (Note 1)
Note 1: For turbidity monitoring in treated surface water the specified performance characteristics are that the method of analysis used must, as a minimum, be capable of measuring concentrations equal to the parametric value with a trueness of 25 %, precision of 25 % and a 25 % limit of detection.
(1*) These terms are further defined in ISO 5725.
 
 
 

ANNEX IV 
>TABLE POSITION>
 
 

ANNEX V 
>TABLE POSITION>



Corrigendum to Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption (OJ L 330 of 5.12.1998)
Official Journal L 111 , 20/04/2001 P. 0031 - 0031 
EN FR
Corrigendum to Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption
(Official Journal of the European Communities L 330 of 5 December 1998)

On page 45 in the Annex, part C, Note 10, point 2:
for: "... the levels of tritium of the calculated total indicative dose ...",
read: "... the levels of tritium or the calculated total indicative dose ...".

CORRIGENDUM TO:
Council Directive 98/83/EC of 3 November 1998 on the quality of water intended for human consumption
Official Journal L 045 , 19/02/1999 P. 0055 - 0055 
DE

/* A corrigendum bearing these publication references has been published for the following language(s): GERMAN 
Refer to the Celex version(s) or the page of the EC OJ indicated in the language(s) in question.
Rectother52 */

 


 
 


ESTROGENS, XENOESTROGENS
PESTICIDES AND MORE ......
CHANGE YOUR BODY
THE WAY YOU
HATE


ENDOCRINE DISRUPTERS
 
 




 
 
 

WEEKLY EPIDEMIOLOGICAL RECORD, NO. 11, 14 MARCH 2003

The right to water

Recently, the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which monitors the implementation of the International Covenant, adopted General Comment No. 15 on the right to water, in which it recognized water not only as a limited natural resource and a public good but also as a human right.1

The right to the highest attainable standard of health was enshrined in WHO's constitution over 50 years ago, and recognized as a fundamental human right in Article 12.1 of
the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. This right extends to the underlying determinants of health, and central among these are safe water and
adequate sanitation.

Nevertheless, in 2003, the United Nations International Year of Freshwater, one of the most fundamental conditions of human development - universal access to water - remains
unmet. At least 1.1 billion of the worlds 6 billion people lack access to safe drinking-water. The lives of these people, who are among the poorest in the world, are often devastated by this deprivation, which impedes the enjoyment of health and other human rights such as adequate food and housing.

The right to water is the right of every individual to sufficient, safe, acceptable, physically accessible and affordable water - a right that must be enjoyed equally and without
discrimination.

Why does defining water as a human right make a difference? Defining access to sufficient safe water as a human right is an important step towards making it a reality for everyone. It means that:

  • fresh water is a legal entitlement, rather than a commodity or service provided on a charitable basis;
  • achieving basic and improved levels of access to safe drinking-water should be accelerated;
  • the "least served" will be better targeted, with the result  that inequalities in access to adequate and safe water supplies will decrease;
  • communities and vulnerable groups will be empowered to take part in decision-making processes;
  • mechanisms available in the United Nations human rights system will be used to monitor the progress of the Covenant's signatories (national governments) in realizing the right to water and to hold governments accountable.
The General Comment recognizes that the ideal cannot be achieved overnight but that progress can be made and targeted where most needed. It does so by recognizing "progressive realization" and by focusing government action on the obligations to respect, protect, and fulfil. If all people are to enjoy their right to water, water must be available in sufficient quantity, it must be safe and affordable, and it must be accessible. These concepts are examined in the following paragraphs.

Sufficient

The 1977 United Nations Water Conference in Mar del Plata, Argentina, established the concept of basic water requirements to meet fundamental human needs, which was reiterated at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

As outlined in a recent WHO report, the amount of water collected every day by households is largely determined by how far the source of water is from the home. If the source is outside the home, but within about 1 km (or 30 minutes' total collection time), around 20 litres per person per day will typically be collected.2 However, more than 1 billion people lack access to even this basic level of service.3 Meeting their needs, plus ensuring that they are aware of the importance of hygiene and are able to act accordingly, remain the principal priorities for improving water supplies.

Around 1.6 billion people are provided with a basic level of service that contributes much to the protection of their health, although they may still invest heavily in the collection
of water. At this basic service level, good hygiene practices and treatment of water in the home will further reduce the spread of disease.

Safe and acceptable

Water must be safe for drinking and other household uses. Drinking-water must be free from microbes and parasites, and from chemical, physical and radiological hazards that
constitute a threat to health. It must also be acceptable in terms of colour and odour so that individuals will choose this water rather than polluted alternatives that may look
more attractive.

Measures of drinking-water safety are usually defined by national and/or local standards for drinking-water quality. WHO's Guidelines for drinking-water quality provide a
basis for the development of national standards that, if properly implemented, will ensure the safety of drinkingwater.

The ability of less-developed countries to monitor water quality comprehensively may be inhibited by limited resources, and some countries lack the knowledge, resources,
and infrastructure to develop water quality standards. The WHO Guidelines therefore include guidance on developing standards that are appropriate for economic, environmental, and sociocultural conditions.

Accessible

For many people in the world, the goal of access to water at home will not be realized in the short or even the medium term. Practical, achievable interim goals are therefore a
priority.

Increasing access to drinking-water provides water for drinking, food preparation, and hygiene, encouraging hand-washing and physical cleanliness, and thus improving
living conditions.

When water has to be collected from distant sources, there are risks - both direct and indirect - to health. It is usually women who collect water, running the risk of spinal injuries and even attack in this daily task. Children may also collect water and will encounter similar risks; they may also miss school.

Affordable

Water must be affordable for everyone. It is a sad irony that it is often the poor, who receive the least, and least reliable, service and water of inferior quality, who pay most for their water - for example, from water vendors in the street. According to one recent estimate, the poor pay 12 times more per litre of water on average than people who have a municipal supply.

Everyone has a right to a minimum "lifeline"to water. The sustainability of improved levels of service depends on reconciling demand and ability to pay. This is not simply a matter of the total cost of water. Many people earn money on an irregular basis and this inhibits them from entering into the long-term, regular financial commitments for reliable supplies that would in fact be more economical than paying by unit consumption. It may therefore be necessary to offer a range of levels of service and technologies, with the potential for progressive upgrading.

Proof of the General Comment will be based on accelerated progress on the ground, especially among those without access to basic water supplies, who carry most of the burden of disease associated with water (around 6% of the global burden of disease). The General Comment provides fair yardsticks for assessing real progress by countries and their domestic organizations and fosters a "rights-based approach" to development. While directed primarily at governments, it has profound implications for domestic
and international organizations of all kinds worldwide. 

1 The right to water. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2003. 
2 Howard G, Bartram J. Water quantity, service level and health. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2003.
3 WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme for Water Supply and Sanitation. Global water and sanitation assessment 2000 report. Geneva, World Health Organization, 2000.


 
 
CNN

March 31, 1999

Bottled water may not be better, environmental group reports

Nationwide standards not in place

Water business is gushing ahead

(CNN) -- Bottled water is often touted as pure and healthy, but it may not be safer than ordinary tap water, according to study of bottled water samples by an environmental advocacy group.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) tested more than 1,000 bottles of 103 different brands of bottled water from bought in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, Texas and the District of Columbia.

Most waters were high quality, but about one-third of the brands tested had at least one sample that was contaminated with high levels of pollutants that exceeded levels allowed by California or bottled water industry standards or guidelines. California has the highest set of standards for bottled water, the NRDC says.

The study found 22 percent of waters contained levels of synthetic compounds such as arsenic that exceeded the California limit, and 17 percent contained levels of bacteria above voluntary industry standards.

Nationwide standards not in place

The Food and Drug administration regulates bottled water on a federal level, but waters bottled and sold within the same state (about 60 to 70 percent of all bottled water) are exempt and regulated by state authorities.

Tap water is regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency which has stricter requirements for water including disinfection and testing for parasites such as giardia.

"Bottled water is essentially regulated on the honor system in most states," said Eric Olson, one of the authors of the report. "Unlike tap water suppliers, bottlers need not disclose to consumers known contaminants in their products."

The International Bottled Water Association, whose members manufacture 85 percent of bottled water sold in the United States, stressed that the NRDC reported a majority of bottled water was "of good quality." IBWA said during the past 37 years under the FDA's regulations, there have been "no confirmed reports" of illness related to bottled water in the United States.

NRDC's report recommends nationwide federal review for bottled water and a penny-a-bottle fee to fund bottled water regulation.

The findings comes as Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-New Jersey) plans on introducing legislation to Congress requiring the same standards for chemical and bacterial contamination as tap water and more detailed labeling for bottled water.

"There may be bottled water that's cleaner than tap water and some that's dirtier, but now there's no way for consumers to tell the difference," Lautenberg said.

Water business is gushing ahead

The purity of bottled water has also been criticized for a mineral it's lacking -- fluoride. Few bottled waters contain the fluoride levels found in municipal water supplies. The mineral, credited with preventing cavities in children and adults, is added to nearly 60 percent of the nation's public water supply.

The American Dental Association reports the mineral prevents between 40 and 60 percent of cavities in people who live in communities with fluorinated tap water.

Americans drink an estimated 3.4 billion gallons of bottled water, often sold as distilled water, spring water or mineral water, each year. Consumption has been increasing about 10 percent a year, the industry says.

The market is dominated by smaller producers but large companies are taking bottled water's popularity seriously. Coca-Cola Co. announced in February it will start selling a line of mineral-enhanced bottled water during the next year.


The Associated Press
03-05-2001

GENEVA (AP) - Despite perceptions that it's healthier, there is little difference between bottled water and tap water - apart from cost - a conservation group said Thursday.

``Bottled water may be no safer, or healthier, than tap water in many countries while selling for up to 1,000 times the price,'' the World Wildlife Fund said.

Bottled water is the fastest growing beverage industry in the world, worth up to $22 billion a year, according to the fund.

A study commissioned by the fund found the ``bottled water market is partly fueled by concerns over the safety of municipal water and by the marketing of many brands which portray them as being healthier than tap water.''

The fund also said bottled water sales were rising because people were worried about pollution.

``Our attitudes toward tap water are being shaped by the pollution which is choking the rivers and streams,'' said the fund's water campaign director Richard Holland.

But the study - conducted by University of Geneva researcher Catherine Ferrier - said the only difference between some bottled water and tap water is that it is distributed in bottles rather than pipes.

But Stephen Kay, spokesman for the International Bottled Water Association, said the fund's criticism was misguided.

``The goals are laudable, and we agree totally that people have a right to clean drinking water,'' he told The Associated Press by telephone from Alexandria, Va. ``But bottled water sales are a symptom of the problem, not the cause itself.''

``The difference between bottled water and tap water is that bottled water's quality is consistent,'' he said.

But according to the fund, regulatory standards for European and U.S. tap water are tougher than those applied to the bottled water industry.

But Kay said this was not the case.

``Bottled water standards in the United States are at least as protective as those for tap water, and the industry is making a concerted effort to develop international standards,'' he said.

While agreeing bottled water may be safer in areas where tap water may be contaminated, the fund said boiled or filtered tap water is still a better option for people on a lower income.

Buying bottled water is ``not a long term sustainable solution to securing access to healthy water. Protecting rivers will help ensure that tap water remains a service which delivers good quality drinking water for everyone at a fair price,'' according to the fund.

The group added that 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water every year. ``Toxic chemicals can be released into the environment during the manufacture and disposal of bottles,'' it said.

But Kay said the industry was serious about recycling.

``We are committed to encouraging consumers to recycle, and to making our packing even more recyclable,'' he said.


World Wildlife Fund Press Releases
 

22 March, 2001 

Bottled Water Consumption Soars As State of Rivers Declines 

On World Water Day, WWF, the conservation organization has warned that rivers and lakes that provide our tap water are becoming increasingly polluted. However, preliminary results from a WWF survey show that the solution does not lie in bottled water.

Consumption of bottled water is soaring around the world as consumers, particularly in developing countries, turn to it for safe drinking water. However, though consumers pay anywhere from 500 to 1000 times the price of municipal water for bottled water, in at least 50 per cent of cases it is the same standard as tap water with added minerals and salts. At the same time, the rivers that provide the source for most tap water are increasingly under threat from pollution caused by runoff from agricultural chemicals, poorly managed and sometimes out of date industrial processes, and lack of adequate treatment for sewage and other urban waste. 

 "It is clear that relying on water from a bottle will not solve problems of safety and access for the consumer," said Richard Holland, Director of WWF's Living Waters Campaign. "Not only do we need tough global standards for bottled water, but we also need to ensure that the water coming out of our taps and wells is safe to drink. This means taking better care of water sources." 

 In order to ensure that tap water is clean and safe for everyone, WWF believes that governments should focus on long-term solutions such as 'greening' of conventional farming techniques, use of locally adapted crops to reduce runoff from fertilizers and pesticides and replenishing exhausted underground water sources. 

Cleaning up municipal water supplies rather than relying on bottled water would provide an additional benefit for the environment. With a quarter of bottled water consumed out of its country of origin, there are serious environmental costs associated with packaging and transport of bottled water around the world. This is increasingly the case as the average world consumption is growing at seven per cent a year, with the biggest growth being in the Asia Pacific region - which is growing at 15 per cent annually. In addition, with 'manufactured' water becoming a popular choice in developing countries, the absence of environmentally-friendly ways of packaging the product or disposing of waste adds to the cycle of pollution. 

 "Whether for safety or luxury, better drinking water is not necessarily only found in a bottle. If we want to drink clean water we need to put more concerted effort and resources into protecting rivers, lakes and underground sources, and then invest in providing this water to the consumer through reliable municipal water supplies," Richard Holland added. 


3 May, 2001

The real cost of bottled water 

Gland, Switzerland - In light of a new independent study WWF, the conservation organization, is urging people to drink tap water, which is often as good as bottled water, for the benefit of the environment and their wallets. 

 According to the study, Bottled Water: Understanding a social phenomenon, commissioned by WWF, bottled water may be no safer, or healthier than tap water in many countries while selling for up to 1000 times the price. Yet, it is the fastest growing drinks industry in the world and is estimated to be worth US$22 billion annually. 

 The study reveals that the bottled water market is partly fuelled by concerns over the safety of municipal water and by the marketing of many brands which portray them as being drawn from pristine sources and as being healthier than tap water. However, some bottled waters only differ from tap water in the fact that they are distributed in bottles rather than through pipes. In fact there are more standards regulating tap water in Europe and the US than those applied to the bottled water industry. 

 "Our attitudes towards tap water are being shaped by the pollution which is choking the rivers and streams which should be veins of life," argues Richard Holland, Director of WWF's Living Waters Campaign. "We must clean up and properly protect these waters at source, and not just at the treatment works, so that we can all rest easy in drinking from the tap."

 The study acknowledges that while bottled water has the advantage of being generally safer in areas where tap water may be contaminated, boiling or filtering local water renders it safe at a much lower cost for people on a low income. However, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in terms of nutritional value, bottled water is no better than tap water. It may contain small amounts of minerals but so does tap water from many public municipal water supplies. 

 Some consumers prefer bottled water to tap water for taste reasons. WWF argues that water companies have an important responsibility to ensure that they consistently produce water that is not only safe but also pleasant to drink. 

 The study also finds that every year 1.5 million tons of plastic are used to bottle water. Toxic chemicals can be released into the environment during the manufacture and disposal of the bottles. Furthermore, a quarter of the 89 billion litres of water bottled worldwide annually are consumed outside their country of origin. Emissions of the green house gas carbon dioxide, caused by transporting bottled water within and between countries, contribute to the global problem of climate change. 

"Bottled water isn't a long term sustainable solution to securing access to healthy water," said Richard Holland. "Clean water is a basic right. Protecting our rivers, streams and wetlands will help ensure that tap water remains a service which delivers good quality drinking water for everyone at a fair price." 

 


 
"THE NEW YORK TIMES", August 23, 2001

A Simple Glass of Water

By TED C. FISHMAN

CHICAGO -- Recently, on a day so blistering in Chicago that authorities issued a heat warning, telling people to stay inside when possible, I was out early with my wife and 10-year-old son, hoping to run errands before the temperature topped 90. Alas, at 9:45 a.m. we were too late, and the heat hit. We wanted water. We went into a coffee shop and ordered a latte for my wife, an iced decaf coffee for my son, and please, a glass of water for me.

"I can only give you a small cup," the clerk told me. That would be fine, I told him. He came back with a thimble-sized cup with roughly one ounce of liquid in it. Was it possible to get more? I asked. "No," said the clerk. "That's all we can give out. We do sell water, though."

These days it seems that providing a simple drink of water is not so much an exercise in quenching the thirsty as in soaking them. Worldwide, bottled water is a $35 billion business. Over the next four years, the bottled water market is expected to grow at 15 percent annually. That dwarfs the growth rates for fruit beverages, beer and soft drinks, all under 2 percent. Of course, sometimes bottled water does taste better or is more convenient or safer than tap water and is worth paying for. That's nothing new. More novel is the pervasive push by businesses to sell bottled water by depriving customers of tap water.

For the past few years, the movie theaters I frequent have been declining requests for water, pushing at $2.50 each the bottled product instead. Seen a water fountain at a gasoline station lately? Not likely. Bottled water is the one of the highest selling items after cigarettes in the stations' convenience stores. In restaurants, waiters now frequently ask for your drink order before they bring you tap water, in the hope that you can be talked into buying bottled water. A waitress I asked called this the "beverage greeting" that her manager required her to say before bringing a glass of water.

During my travels nearly 20 years ago through Indonesia's coffee-growing regions, I would often stop by a bamboo-thatched lean-to for a drink. Water in the land of the coffee bean rarely comes from a tap; it has to be hauled from wells, strained and boiled. Often I was served by rail-thin old men or women in fraying sarongs who subsisted on a few dollars a week. Yet, ask for water and they brought it. At first I asked to pay, not for the water, but for the work behind it. They'd refuse even the smallest coin. The custom of sharing water was too elemental to gum up with finagling.

In India, the Sarai Act mandates that an innkeeper give a free glass of drinking water to any passerby. Indeed, in most places around the world, giving strangers water is the bare minimum of humane behavior. Why is that not so here?

Ted C. Fish is a contributing editor for Worth and Harper's Magazines.
 


 
 
 
Reuters, June 18, 2003

Nestle Sued Over Bottled Water Claims

By Greg Frost
 

BOSTON (Reuters) - Food giant Nestle has duped Americans who buy Poland Spring bottled water into thinking it comes from a lush spring tucked deep in the woods of Maine, according to a class-action lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
Instead, most of the sources for Poland Spring are either surrounded by asphalt parking lots or potentially dangerous contamination, according to the lawsuit filed against a subsidiary of Swiss-based Nestle SA (NESZn.VX).

 "Consumers purchase Poland Spring thinking they are getting a higher-quality natural spring water, but our suit will show that Poland Spring is neither natural nor spring water, and in fact comes from sources of a lesser quality than some tap water," Tom Sobol, an attorney who filed the complaint, said in a statement.

 Nestle Waters North America, the Connecticut-based Nestle unit that was slapped with the lawsuit, said it was outraged by the allegations.

 "Poland Spring is exactly what we say it is -- natural spring water -- and there are many criteria for that," said spokeswoman Jane Lazgin. "The truth will come to light. We will certainly defend our good name against these false charges."

 The complaint was filed in Connecticut Superior Court and claims that Nestle falsely labels Poland Spring as coming from "deep in the woods of Maine." It says the original Poland Spring has not flowed for more than 35 years and the actual sources of the water -- some of which are 30 miles away -- depend on man-made wells that draw more than 6 million gallons of water a year.

 Nestle is also accused of falsely advertising Poland Spring as "naturally purified" or "spring water" because the water does not meet the scientific definition for spring water.

 In addition to demanding restitution for the general public, the lawsuit seeks to ban Nestle from promoting or advertising products as "spring water" if they do not meet scientific definitions.

 Nestle Waters North America Inc. says on its Web site that it is the largest bottled water company in the United States, with brands including Calistoga, Ozarka and Deer Park in its portfolio.

 Poland Spring is distributed throughout the northeastern United States as well as parts of the South and Midwest.


The Associated Press, June 19, 2003
Suit claims Poland Spring's ads are false


BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in Connecticut claim that some Poland Spring bottled water is actually taken from sources that are surrounded by asphalt parking lots or potentially dangerous contamination.

The suit filed Wednesday against Nestle Waters North America Inc., the Greenwich-based subsidiary of Nestle S.A., seeks designation as a class action.

Nestle advertises that Poland Spring water comes from "some of the most pristine and protected sources deep in the woods of Maine." Poland Spring water is bottled at plants in Hollis and Poland, Maine.

The lawsuit contends that while the water comes from Maine, it doesn't meet the scientific definition for spring water. Similar suits also were filed in New Jersey and Massachusetts, attorneys said.

The suit argues that Nestle's claims of Poland Spring as "found deep in the woods of Maine" and "exceptionally well protected by nature" intentionally deceives customers about the true nature of the sources.

"We believe this is nothing more than a bottled-water bait and switch," Tom Sobol, the attorney representing consumers, said in a statement.

The company called the allegations "completely unfounded."

Nestle spokesman Hans-Joerg Renk said each bottle lists the spring from which the water was drawn and the water is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and meets all state regulations.

The plaintiffs, Michele Savalle and SDB Trucking LLC of New London County, are described in the suit as longtime consumers of Poland Spring water.


The Boston Herald, June 20, 2003

Lawsuit claims lies on Poland Spring source

by Jay Fitzgerald

Poland Spring likes to say its spring water comes from sources deep within the pristine woods of Maine.

 But a new lawsuit charges that the bottled-water maker actually gets its H2O from ``common ground water'' - some of which lies under a roadside parking lot and a ``former trash and refuse dump.''

 ``None of their water is genuine spring water,'' said well-known Boston attorney Tom Sobol, who represents two consumers who filed the lawsuit charging Poland Spring with false advertising.

 Sobol said plaintiffs are seeking class-action status for the lawsuit, filed in Connecticut Superior Court against Nestle Waters North America Inc., the Greenwich, Conn.-based subsidiary of Nestle S.A. and owner of Poland Spring.

 ``Their water very frequently comes from contaminated sources,'' said Sobol, who added the suit has not specified what type of damages it will seek.

 Maine Gov. John Baldacci and Nestle Waters North America blasted the lawsuit as inaccurate, frivolous and a classic case of out-of-control litigation.

 ``These allegations are outrageous,'' said Baldacci in a statement, noting Poland Spring's water is regulated by the state of Maine, where 600 people are employed by the company.

 ``Our spring water is spring water - natural spring water,'' said Jane Lazgin, spokeswoman for Nestle Waters North America. She said Poland Spring's four water sources in Maine meet Food and Drug Administration standards, have been routinely inspected by experts and approved as official spring water by the state of Maine.

 She said the real motive for the lawsuit is simple: money.

 ``It's really about a big payoff,'' Lazgin said.

 A statement put out by Poland Spring Water Co. echoed the theme.

 ``It's a shame that the legal system tolerates this type of behavior,'' said the company statement, adding the company's met spring-water and advertising regulations in a number of states, including Massachusetts.

 But Sobol, who was the lead outside attorney for Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the historic tobacco-settlement case, said the Poland Spring suit is about ``truth in advertising'' and he'll press the case on behalf of current and possibly future clients.

 Poland Spring, a market-leader in bottled water, had 2001 sales of $542 million, according to Beverage Marketing Corp.


 
 
Associated Press, 29 June 2003 

Ukraine: Number of Hepatitis A Cases in Sukhodilsk Approaches 500

Kiev: Almost 500 people have been hospitalized with symptoms of hepatitis A after drinking contaminated water in an eastern Ukrainian town, officials said on Sat 28 Jun 2003. The Health and Emergency Ministries said the number of new cases doubled last week, with 340 adults and 139 children in the town of Sukhodilsk being treated for the illness. So far, 375 people in the town of 23 000 have been diagnosed with the disease, but the number is expected to increase significantly because the incubation period is 30 days.

The outbreak began 9 Jun 2003 after high levels of stagnant subsoil waters caused the town's water supply and sewage system to overflow. A regional spokeswoman said the outbreak was connected with the closure of coal 
mines,which began in 1997. The mines have filled up with water but authorities don't have money to pump them out, she said. To stem the disease's spread, authorities have begun replacing pipes, overhauling sewage systems, pumping water out of dwellings, and distributing fresh drinking water to residents, the Emergency Ministry said.


German Drinks Container Deposit System in Turmoil

BERLIN, Germany, June 4, 2003 (ENS) - Germany's system of deposits on disposable drinks cans and bottles has been thrown into crisis after food industry association BVE announced Tuesday that it would no longer prepare for the system's full operation by October 1, as previously promised.

Environment Minister Juergen Trittin attacked the move, which comes amidst revelations that the European Commission officially warned Germany on May 15 that the scheme is creating illegal trade barriers.

The deposits took effect in January, but without a "clearing system," meaning consumers must return containers to the point of purchase to claim back their deposit. Industry groups say the result has been chaos - consumption of beer and soft drinks is down 10 to 14 percent and "thousands of jobs" are being lost, they claim.

According to European packaging industry lobbyist Bob Schmitz, the Commission's letter to the German government was a "decisive" factor behind the decision to stop preparations for nationwide clearing, expected to cost billions of euros. There are now simply too many legal uncertainties surrounding the scheme, said BVE president Peter Traumann.

Trittin hit back in a statement as well as in comments made in Brussels today, accusing the industry of seeking yet another excuse to divert attention from its own failure to implement the clearing system since March 2002. The Commission's warning showed not that the deposits were dead but only the need to introduce a clearing system more quickly, he said.

A Commission spokesperson confirmed that the "pre-infringement" letter sent to Germany deals with the lack of a clearing system, not the deposits per se, while stressing the government's legal duty to avoid any new system causing trade barriers.

Industry sources said the letter also suggests that the German government suspend the deposits until a clearing system is in place.

Both sides are now playing for high stakes. Trittin, who represents the Green Party, said he would direct state authorities to enforce the deposits from October 1 "at every step of the trade process."

But BVE yesterday sought to go over the Green minister's head by appealing, with trade union support, directly to Chancellor Gerhard Schrder.

Backers of the deposits say that industry's boycott of the clearing system will only accelerate the resurgence of refillable containers on the market, effectively implementing the government's own policy aims. Tetail association HDE has said that in the absence of a clearing system its members will delist all one way packaging this autumn so as to avoid the expense and complications of handling deposits.

Such a success could turn out to be the scheme's undoing, though. Were disposables to be largely eliminated from the German drinks market then so would the majority of imports, creating trade barriers on a scale that the European Union would be certain to challenge.

{The German drinks deposit story is published in cooperation with ENDS Environment Daily, Europe's choice for environmental news. Environmental Data Services Ltd, London.}


BBC, July 5, 2003

World's water supply 'running low'

The world's natural supply of underground water, on which two billion people depend, is being run down, according to the United Nations.

Water tables are falling by about three metres a year across much of the developing world, according to a study by the UN Environment Programme (Unep).

Launching its report on World Environment Day, the UN said governments must take immediate action to reverse the decline.

"I hope this report will serve as a wake-up call concerning the human, social and economic consequences of squandering our vital underground water supplies," said Klaus Toepfer, Unep's executive director.

Growing populations, industrialisation and more intensive farming are all contributing to a dramatic increase in the use of water.

In Arizona, the amount of water being taken from the ground is twice what is replaced naturally, the report says.

In parts of the Arabian Gulf, underground water sources are being contaminated by salty sea water pumped from the coast through leaky pipelines to boost city supplies.

Developing countries in particular are using up groundwater at what the report calls "an alarming rate".

Dhaka in Bangladesh has been tapping into its underground water sources so vigorously that in some places the water table has fallen by 40 metres. New boreholes produce a third less water than 30 years ago, experts say.

Hidden problem

But the UN says the issue is not getting enough attention because water tables are mainly hidden from view.

"If a lake, river or reservoir becomes depleted or dries up, the event is highly visible. There is public outcry and often action taken," Mr Toepfer said.
 
 
SIGNS OF WATER CRISIS 
Mexico Property damaged by land subsidence 
Arabian Gulf Type of flooding called 'water logging' 
Rural India 80% of drinking water comes from ground 
US Water stores in huge Ogalla Aquifer have dropped by 20% 

"Hopefully [the report's] findings will ensure that underground water supplies are no longer 'out of sight and thus out of mind'."

The report says some of the world's biggest cities - including Bangkok, Cairo, Calcutta, London, Mexico City and Jakarta - are dependent on groundwater and should be "prudent" in managing their supplies.

The report calls for a more integrated management structure of underground water supplies and for relevant agencies to be given the necessary resources.

Communities and those whose livelihoods are reliant on groundwater need to be encouraged to seek alternatives and should be given training and credit for doing so, it says.

But first, it concludes, many parts of the developing world need to be better informed of the issue, so they can monitor the crisis properly before it becomes any more acute.


Threats Rising for U.S. Public Water Supplies

By J.R. Pegg

WASHINGTON, DC, June 11, 2003 (ENS) - Many Americans take the safety of their tap water for granted, but that faith could be misguided. In a report released today, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) says that aging infrastructure, source water pollution and outdated treatment technology are combining to increase the potential health risks from public drinking water for many residents in 19 of the nation's largest cities.

NRDC's review of tap water quality in 19 municipalities rated three problem areas - water quality and compliance, source water protection, and right-to-know compliance.

The report "What's on Tap? Grading Drinking Water in U.S. Cities" finds that although drinking water purity has improved slightly during the past 15 years in most cities, overall tap water quality varies widely from city to city and many cities are failing to take long term steps needed to ensure the safety of their water supplies.

"Clean drinking water has been one of the major public health triumphs of the past 100 years," said Dr. David Ozonoff, a professor at Boston University's School of Public Health.

"We have figured out how to build very efficient water delivery systems," Ozonoff explained. "But these systems can either provide safe drinking water, or deliver poisons and harmful organisms into every home, school and workplace. One misstep can lead to disaster, so we must vigorously protect our watersheds and use the best technology to purify our tap water." 
The report calls for increased investment in infrastructure to upgrade deteriorating water systems and modernize treatment techniques, and for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to strengthen and enforce existing health standards and develop new standards for contaminants that remain unregulated.

In addition, it recommends that state and municipal authorities adopt standards, and purchase land or easements that restrict land use to safeguard water as well as protect watersheds and areas above aquifers draining into water supplies.

It details that healthy city water supplies in the United States resemble each other in three distinct ways - they have good source water protection, treatment, and maintenance and operation of the system.

For example, of the 19 cities reviewed by the report, only Chicago's water quality was rated "excellent" in 2001. Five cities rated good, eight rated fair and five rated poor.

None failed, but the citizens within the five cities rated poor - Alburquerque, Boston, Fresno, Phoenix and San Francisco - are drinking tap water is sufficiently contaminated so as to pose potential health risks. In particular, pregnant women, infants, children, the elderly and individuals with compromised immune systems face health risks from tap water in these cities, according to the report.

The report found an increase in the frequency of periodic spikes in contamination in many cities, an indication that aging equipment and infrastructure may be inadequate to handle today's contaminant loads or spills.

The upgrades and repairs needed to ensure the safety of drinking water nationwide would be costly, the report says, but they are necessary. NRDC estimates the nationwide cost could be as high as $500 billion.

Although it documented only a small number of cities that were in outright violation of national standards, the organization says this does not imply low contaminant levels but rather low standards.

It cites the new EPA standard for arsenic, which decreased the legal level of 50 parts per billion (ppb) - set in 1942 - to 10 ppb, starting in 2006. But the new standard, which has been the source of much controversy, is a level that the National Academy of Sciences says presents a lifetime fatal cancer risk of about 1 in 333. 
This risk, NRDC says, is 30 times greater than what the EPA generally considers acceptable and more than three times the 3 ppb standard the agency determined was feasible.

"The mere fact that a city may meet the federal standard for arsenic - or other high-risk contaminants with weak standards - does not necessarily mean the water is safe," according to the report.

NRDC says the EPA should issue new standards for perchlorate, radon, distribution systems and groundwater microbes. Existing standards for arsenic, atrazine/total trizenes, chromium, cryptosporidium and other pathogens, fluoride, haloacetic acids, lead and total trihalomethandes should be strengthened, the report finds.

Protecting lakes, streams and groundwater that serve as key drinking water sources is a critical component of a safe water supply. There is a wide range of possible contaminants that can plague source waters, including municipal sewage, stormwater runoff, pesticides and fertilizer runoff, as well as industrial pollution. 

NRDC's evaluations of the 19 cities found only Seattle rated excellent for protecting source water. Four cities received a rating of good, four received a fair rating, and seven rated poor.

The city of Fresno, California, which relies on wells, received a failing grade. The report found these wells have become seriously contaminated by agricultural and industrial pollution.

None of the surveyed cities received an excellent rating for mandated right-to-know reports, which are designed to inform residents about water system problems. NRDC rated eight good, six fair, three poor, and two - Newark, New Jersey, and Phoenix, Arizona, - failed.

These reports are required under the 1996 amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act, which forces water suppliers to notify the public of dangers in tap water and inform people about the overall health of their watershed.

But the report details that "in many cases, right-to-know reports have become propaganda for water suppliers, and the enormous promise of right-to-know reports has not been achieved."

The report warns that actions by the Bush administration could further threaten the purity of the nation's tap water. It notes an administration proposal to limit the scope of the Clean Water Act and notes that the Bush administration has declined to strengthen tap water standards or issue new ones for contaminants and has cut funding for water quality protection programs.

In addition, NRDC criticizes the administration for its refusal to reinstate a Superfund law provision that forces corporations to pay into a fund to clean up hazardous waste sites, which can affect important drinking water sources.

"The Bush administration is more concerned about protecting corporate polluters than protecting public health," said Erik Olson, the report's principal author and a senior attorney with NRDC's Public Health Program. "Proposals to end Clean Water Act protection for most streams, creeks and wetlands will jeopardize city efforts to provide pure drinking water for its residents."

The full report can be found at NRDC's site.


 
 
EPA Permits Florida to Pollute Freshwater Aquifers

By Donald Sutherland

TALLAHASSEE, Florida, June 11, 2003 (ENS) - Before Christine Todd Whitman resigned from her office as administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in May she had decided to sign off on a rulemaking decision drawn up by EPA water administrators declaring Florida exempt from certain provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

Published in the Federal Register on May 5, the exemption will permit Florida to legally pollute drinking water aquifers with inadequately treated waste through municipal underground injection control (UIC) wells.

EPA administrators, including Whitman, have been reviewing a problem that arose when the federal agency advised the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) in the late 1970s to initiate a program of disposal of municipal sewage and industrial waste by injection underground into deep injection wells.
 

Municipal underground injection control well in Florida (Photo courtesy USF Ficus)
A Fortune 500 engineering consulting firm, CH2M Hill, had assured all parties that the injected underground waste effluent would be contained by a geological barrier and would not commingle with drinking water aquifers.

The injected sewage and industrial waste would also harmlessly be disposed of in deep saline aquifers and then migrate into coastal waters, the company said.

Since the EPA gave approval for the underground injection of sewage and industrial waste, more than 120 Class 1 underground injection control wells have been built to service the unfettered growth in south Florida.

Officials with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection estimate the flow of injected waste at over 400 million gallons daily, but environmental groups contend it is closer to one billion gallons every day.

Now there is a big containment problem.

Monitoring tests conducted by the EPA and the FDEP in the 1990s and again this year have shown the UIC waste is migrating upward into aquifers the region relies on for drinking water.

U.S. Geological Society (USGS) tracer studies of injection wells in the Florida Keys have shown that bacteria, viruses, and nutrient loading from migrating UIC sewage waste are contaminating tourist beaches and destroying the nutrient sensitive, fragile coastal reef ecosystem in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Algae that choke coral, and algal blooms that harm and kill fish and marine mammals, and dying sea grass beds are all associated with nutrient loading from sewage waste.

The health of Carysfort Reef off the coast of Florida has declined in the past 25 years. Corals that were healthy in 1975 are visibly sick by 1985, and dead and broken by 1995. (Photo by Phillip Dustan, College of Charleston courtesy NASA)
Government officials admit these events are occurring where sewage waste injected into Florida's underground sources of drinking water is migrating into coastal waters.

Still, federal and state governments have secured no funding to study the health implications of this contamination - the nation's largest violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act.

They have not funded studies of the environmental impact of municipal UIC waste migration into coastal waters.

The tourist, recreational, and resort industries have not expressed a concern regarding the economic impact of UIC pollution even though beach closings due to bacteria contamination and harmful algal blooms have increased since the inception of municipal UICs.

Florida's building, housing, and construction industries endorse the continuation of the current sewage disposal process that is less expensive than building advanced wastewater treatment plants with facilities to reuse the treated effluent.

Communities and residents of most of south Florida's counties have not repealed measures authorizing the expansion of municipal injection wells and have not expressed a health concern with the practice.

Only Pinellas County has decided to plug failed UIC wells and replace them with an extensive wastewater reuse program.

All of Florida's government representatives, officials, and agencies have endorsed south Florida's loosely permitted disposal in underground injection control wells.

Although two Democratic state legislators this year proposed legislation to require a stricter accounting of UIC permitting, the proposal was not considered by the legislature.

Florida's UIC municipal waste disposal program is banned in other states because it is viewed as a health and environmental threat.

"There is no short term solution to the municipal Class 1 UIC fluid migration into underground sources of drinking water in Florida," says Nancy Marsh, program manager for EPA Region 4 Ground Water UIC section.

"Municipalities are reliant on these injection wells and they can't be shut down," she says.
 

Drawing showing an underground injection control well (Image courtesy EPA)
Only two environmental organizations, the Florida Sierra Club and the Legal Environmental Assistance Foundation, have mounted a campaign to oppose the nation's largest violation of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the UIC destruction of Florida's marine ecosystems.

"The Sierra Club's Florida Chapter has been rebuffed by the state in a call for transparency of the state's underground injection control program that would enhance the public right to know," says Alan Farago, the organization's Miami conservation chair.

"Governor [Jeb] Bush and FDEP Secretary [David] Struhs failed to support a proposal which sought simply to account for the massive pollution of underground aquifers in Florida," he says.

To date there are no lawsuits being brought against the EPA, FDEP, or any local utility authority over the contamination of Florida's drinking water supplies.

A regional EPA official who walked out of the rule reversal sessions on Florida's UIC program held at EPA headquarters in Washington, considered the consequences with ENS on condition of anonymity. "The big question is, is the EPA violating the federal law National Environmental Policy Act with this action?" he asked.

The National Environmental Policy Act requires all federal agencies to integrate environmental values in their rulemaking processes. They must consider any environmental impacts of their proposed actions and give reasonable alternatives to those actions. The act also mandates a detailed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for these rulemaking processes.

The larger question according to the same EPA regional official concerns what legal precedent has been set by this EPA rule change of the Safe Drinking Water Act to accommodate a state's noncompliance with a national law that safeguards the American public and the environment. 


 
The Guardian, July 10, 2003

Hitting the bottle

Why are so many people reaching for Evian and Vittel when tap water has never been cleaner? Tomilola Ajayi reports
 
 
Drinking a glass of water
Can you tell the difference?
Deslie Anderson has not tasted tap water since she arrived in London five months ago. The 26-year-old Australian hairdresser simply does not trust it. Katie Bolton, a flower-stall assistant, only drinks it when desperate. Mandy Swan-Brown, a sales manager, prefers the water in the north and normally buys sparkling mineral water.

These women are not alone. They are part of a growing number of Britons abandoning tap water and instead pledging their allegiance to the bottled variety. These bottled-water aficionados spend 1bn a year on brands such as Evian, Vittel and Volvic, undeterred by the fact that it is a thousand times more expensive than water from the tap.

Yet, if a recent watchdog report is to be believed, tap water quality in England and Wales has never been better. Almost all the water tested by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) last year met national and European Union standards. A total of 2.9m tests were conducted, with only 0.13% failing to reach the standard.

So why are increasing numbers of people turning their backs on tap water? Many claim it is just as healthy, and possibly even better, than the bottled stuff. Claire Jackson, a DWI deputy inspector, also points out that, while bottled water can easily sit on a shelf for two years before being sold, tap water is fresh everyday.

Nonetheless, numerous other people believe you get what you pay for. Brands such as Evian arguably taste cleaner, fresher, and less processed than tap water. The difference between tap and mineral water is still evident, claims the Natural Mineral Water Information Service. Jo Jacobius, a spokeswoman, said: "The choice between the two is whether you want your water naturally clean or chemically clean."

Guardian Unlimited carried out its own opinion survey, on the streets of Farringdon, to establish just whether tap is top. Participants were selected at random. They sampled water from two unmarked bottles, one containing mineral and the other tap water. Of the 12 people questioned, seven correctly identified the mineral water, three guessed incorrectly, and two were not able to differentiate between the two samples.

One woman flatly refused to taste either sample: "How do I know they're not poisonous?" Good question. Jeni Colbourne, the DWI's new chief inspector, said: "We have one of the strictest drinking water safety regimes in the world." This claim did not wash with the participants, many of whom complained that tap water tasted chlorinated and sterilised. "It has a funny aftertaste," said Katie Bolton.

This unrepresentative and scientifically unsound survey suggests it is merely a question of individual preference. Many Britons like their water to taste of something other than the very thing it is. This is good news for manufacturers of sparkling and flavoured water. Conall Oduntan-Hogan, customer services manager of the Guardian Cafe, thought both samples tasted bland: "They were very plain, with no bite and no kick."

That five participants either guessed incorrectly or could not tell the difference lends support to the DWI claim that tap water quality is improving. Or perhaps the standard of bottled water is in decline? Taste and see for yourself.


The Guardian, July 10, 2003

Bottled water has nowhere to run

Leader

One of the greatest success stories of business - and one of the greatest mysteries - is the mineral-water industry.

It expanded last year by 10% - five times faster than the rate of growth of the whole economy. And it has doing this for years and years. Yet during the past decade tap water has been getting better and better thanks to enforced capital investment programmes by the privatised water companies.

In its annual report this week, the drinking water inspectorate pronounced that a record 99.87% of all tap water tested last year from 2.9m samples met stringent UK and EU purity standards. Our water has never been purer. It comes fresh from the tap, in contrast to mineral water which, as the inspector points out, could have been lingering in a warm warehouse or on a shelf for up to two years.

Experts cannot tell still mineral water from tap water in a blind tasting, especially if it has been put in a fridge for a while to allow the chlorine to evaporate (for taste not health reasons). There is really only one serious difference between the two. Bottled water is a thousand times more expensive than drinking water, or three or four thousand times more expensive if you order it in a restaurant.

Just why the public image of drinking water is so grotesquely at odds with the underlying reality is difficult to explain.

It is partly British reticence to ask for tap water in a restaurant for fear of being thought a cheapskate. But it is also because the tap water industry does not attempt to match the marketing skills that its bottled rivals display in making people happy to pay a thousand times more for an inferior product.

Water utilities, of course, do not have the same incentive because water is mostly paid for through the rates, so they do not increase income by selling more. Yet tap water is a promotional dream come true - the selling of a product whose qualities are hugely under-appreciated. If Alastair Campbell is ever looking for another job ...