Suggestions for changing behaviour: Safer tap water

Few remember now that in 2012 there was a European Citizens Initiative (ECI), which collected almost 1.7 million signatures in twelve months. The ECI was entitled: Right2Water – Water and sanitation are a human right! Water is a public good, not a commodity!

Time has passed and that ECI has produced a new European Directive: The quality of water intended for human consumption. Composed of 140 pages, the directive goes into the details of the distribution of water right up to when it comes out of the tap at home. Formally approved and published on 16/12/2020, it will enter into force in mid-January 2021, from which date the three-year period will start for its transposition into the laws of each EU Member State.

This new directive proposes a reduction in the consumption of bottled water, which could save households over 600 million euros a year. Furthermore, to enable and encourage people to drink tap water rather than bottled water, the quality of tap water will be improved by imposing stricter limits for certain pollutants, including lead.

The use of tap water, made safer and cheaper at home, will allow better protection of the environment, especially in reducing the use of plastic. Thus, Member States will ensure that measures taken to implement the new standards are based on the precautionary principle and under no circumstances lead to the deterioration of the present quality of drinking water. To this end, Member States shall ensure the free provision of water in public buildings and should encourage restaurants, canteens, and catering services to give customers water for free or for a low service fee. Member States should also take measures to improve access to water for vulnerable groups, such as refugees, nomadic communities, homeless people, and minority cultures.