Water Quality in Drinking Water Distribution Systems.
Safe drinking water is paramount for the health and wellbeing of all populations. Unsafe drinking water can contain pathogenic microorganisms and/or chemicals that can make people immediately unwell or can potentially cause serious illness over prolonged exposures. Within the EU, water is extracted from surface and groundwater sources and treated to comply with EU drinking water standards under the Water Framework Directive and Drinking Water Directive. The water is then circulated through the drinking water distribution system (DWDS). During travel within the DWDS, water quality can deteriorate due to microbiological growth, chemical reactions, interactions with ageing and deteriorating infrastructure, and through maintenance and repair activities. Water utilities within the EU are administered at the local level, i.e. city or county region and while they adhere to the overarching EU directives governing quality, they can choose their own treatment protocols, maintenance procedures and hydraulic operations. Some DWDS actions such as flushing may serve to improve water quality, however, these can also adversely impact the drinking water system and cause instances of poor water quality or disease outbreaks. We propose to bridge the gap between science and practice, involving water utilities and researchers from multiple locations across Europe along with third-country expertise, to examine DWDS operational practices and use scientific research approaches to better understand the water quality impact of different interventions to develop a suite of best practices which can be shared to ensure that the EU’s water remains clean and safe. We have assembled a multi-disciplinary, cross sectoral consortium to address various aspects of DWDS practices including flushing, chlorination and system maintenance.