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Worldwide Drinking Water Directives

The European Commission adopted on 1 February 2018 a proposal for a revised drinking water directive to improve the quality of drinking water and provide greater access and information to citizens. The proposal for modernising the twenty-year-old drinking water directive (98/83/EC) comes in part as a response to the European Citizens' Initiative Right2Water and as a contribution to meeting the targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. Among the main elements of this revision, the Commission proposes to update the existing safety standards in line with latest recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO) but also sets an obligation for EU countries to improve access to safe drinking water for all, and more specifically to vulnerable and marginalised groups. The revision of this directive is also the opportunity to integrate the new priorities of the EU in terms of environment protection, the development of a circular economy and adaptation to climate change. Indeed, the water sector consumes in Europe the equivalent of 3,5% of the electricity consumption. At local level, power charges make up between 30 and 50% of municipalities' bills, which are easily passed on to consumers who usually have no alternative suppliers. In addition to that, the Commission revealed that Europe has a massive issue around water leakage. According to their analysis, the average leakage rate in Europe stands at 23% of treated water. The Commission's solution to address this issue has been to include transparency requirements for the biggest water suppliers to publish information on their water leakage and energy consumption.