A reform of the EU directive on drinking water approved on Tuesday by the European Parliament’s Environment Committee aims to improve the quality of tap water by tightening the maximum limits for certain pollutants such as lead and harmful bacteria.
The rules also aim to reduce plastic waste by encouraging the use of tap water. To achieve this, free or low-cost water supply could be provided in public buildings, for customers in restaurants, canteens and catering services.
“If and when confidence in drinking tap water improves, citizens will use and throw away less plastic water bottles thus helping to protect the environment,” said Luxembourg MEP Christophe Hansen, adding that “they can also save a lot of money as drinking water is much cheaper than bottled water.”
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As for the water framework directive, it is fit for purpose and therefore should not be revised, MEPs agreed. However, its implementation is lacking, they said, pointing the finger at EU Member States.
Fewer than half of the EU's 110,000 surface water bodies are reportedly in good status, even though the deadline for bringing them into line was set for 2015.
"The precautionary and polluter-pays principles are not being implemented properly, and many member states are using exemptions too broadly," MEPs complained.
In a resolution, they stress that the directive's objectives must be better integrated into sectoral policies, particularly in the fields of agriculture, transport and energy, in order to achieve full compliance and "good status" for all surface and groundwater by 2027 at the latest.
The Brussels Times