Drinking Water Quality

Content Table

The quality of drinking-water is a powerful environmental determinant of health. Drinking-water quality management has been a key pillar of primary prevention for over one-and-a-half centuries and it continues to be the foundation for the prevention and control of waterborne diseases. Water is essential for life, but it can and does transmit disease in countries in all continents – from the poorest to the wealthiest. The most predominant waterborne disease, diarrhoea, has an estimated annual incidence of 4.6 billion episodes and causes 2.2 million deaths every year.

WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality

WHO produces international norms on water quality and human health in the form of guidelines that are used as the basis for regulation and standard setting, in developing and developed countries world-wide.

In 1982, WHO shifted its focus from ‘International Standards’ to ‘Guidelines’. The main reason for the shift is the advantage provided by the use of a risk-benefit approach (quantitative or qualitative) to the establishment of national standards and regulations. Specifically, the application of the Guidelines to different countries should take
account of the sociocultural, environmental and economic circumstances particular to those countries.

The Guidelines are addressed to water and health regulators, policy-makers and their advisors, mainly to assist them in the development of national standards. The Guidelines are also used by many others as a source of information on water quality and health and on effective management approaches.

The Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality are recognized as the UN system’s official position on drinking water quality. The European Commission and Japan use the Guidelines as the scientific point of departure for their drinking-water directive and drinking-water quality standards, respectively; the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines are based on the WHO Guidelines, while the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Canada’s Health Canada actively observe and participate in the WHO Guidelines development and updating process.

Many developing countries use the Guidelines directly or indirectly in setting national standards. The Guidelines
are often used where guidelines or standards are unavailable and are also referred to in the food standards developed by the Codex Alimentarius Commission (for instance, for mineral water and bottled water.

International Network of Drinking-Water Regulators

The International Network of Drinking-Water Regulators (RegNet) was established in 2008 in response to requests from Member States to better address regulatory issues in relation to drinking-water. RegNet is an international forum to share and discuss strategies to address all aspects of protection of public health as it relates to drinking-water. RegNet aims to promote good practice to regulate a variety of water quality and water management issues.

National Laws for Drinking Water Quality

USA: The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is the main federal law that ensures the quality of Americans' drinking water.Under SDWA, EPA sets standards for drinking water quality and oversees the states, localities, and water suppliers who implement those standards.

European Union: The objective of the Drinking Water Directive is to protect the health of the consumers in the European Union and to make sure the water is wholesome and clean.



Related Titles on Drinking Water from IWA Publishing


Best Practice Guide on the Control of Arsenic in Drinking Water - Matyas Borsanyi
 Publication Date: Aug 2013 - ISBN - 9781843393856

Best Practice Guide on the Control of Iron and Manganese in Water Supply - Adam Postawa
 Publication Date: Sep 2012 - ISBN - 9781780400044

Best Practice Guide on Metals Removal From Drinking Water By Treatment - Mustafa Ersoz, Lisa Barrott and Tom Hall
 Publication Date: Jun 2012 - ISBN - 9781843393849

Best Practice Guide on Sampling and Monitoring of Metals in Drinking Water - Adam Postawa
 Publication Date: Jan 2012 - ISBN - 9781843393832

Guide for Small Community Water Suppliers and Local Health Officials on Lead in Drinking Water - Colin Hayes
 Publication Date: Jun 2010 - ISBN - 9781843393801

Best Practice Guide on the Control of Lead in Drinking Water - Colin Hayes
 Publication Date: Apr 2010 - ISBN - 9781843393696

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