The general public, even scientific community belief is that water safety and thus water safety plans are a tool only for the developing countries poor water supply systems. The fact though, that there were serious outbreaks of waterborne diseases in developed countries the past years have indicated the need for a continuous vigilance in the management of water supply systems.
For DRINKADRIA area, as already stated in the project proposal, dealing with cross border and cross region water supply systems water quality and quality assurance is a major issue, since the countries are many times entitled to different legislation requirements regarding not only water quality but also water quantity risks. The safeguarding of water quality and quantity gets even more uncertain in emergency situations that are highlighted from the climate change pressures, as well as the large number of small scale water supplies in the DRINKADRIA area. Thus, a Water Safety Plan (WSP), modified to take into account the emergency incidents and the small scale supplies particularities, is the key, that could provide effective management of potable water systems, critical to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water.
A brief questionnaire was prepared in order to investigate the implementation of HACCP and/or WSP in water utilities (WU) and partner countries in the DRINKADRIA area. The questionnaire asked for the following information.
- The existence of a WSP or HACCP in the WU partner country.
- If the implementation of WSP or HACCP is a mandatory legal obligation.
- What are the contents of the WSP/HACCP and in which documents they are defined.
- If risks for water quality and water shortage are determined.
- The measures applied to deal with the qualitative and quantitative risks.
- If alternative drinking water resources are determined.
Interesting outcome of the questionnaire is how different are the approaches of water security, even in restricted areas like in Istria peninsula in Croatia. Since the legislation does not impose the implementation of WSP or HACCP, it relies on the WU whether it will adopt such a plan or not. Moreover, we can conclude to the fact that although some WU adopt HACCP or WSP they do not give emphasis to the quantitative aspect such as water shortage incidents, but rather the qualitative aspect even in the incident situations.
Attention should also be given to the fact that although a lot of countries implement a WSP type approach in the WU (like the case of Greece http://drinkadria.fgg.uni-lj.si/water-resources/legislation-water-sources-monitoring/ ) to safeguard the supply of water in the emergency situation, they do not refer to it as WSP. As a result it is more difficult to make an overview of the benefits of the WSP.
Generally though, water systems which have implemented WSPs or their equivalent have seen an increase in regulatory compliance, improvements in microbiological water quality, decreases in the incidence of clinical cases of diarrhea, greater customer satisfaction, and better asset management, leading to potential financial benefits. These benefits suggest that implementing WSPs could offer added value to existing regulations.
References regarding water safety plans:
- Water safety planning for small community water supplies: Step-by-step risk management guidance for drinking-water supplies in small communities
- Water safety plan manual (WSP manual): Step-by-step risk management for drinking-water suppliers
- Guidelines for drinking-water quality, fourth edition
European technical standards:
EN 159751:2011 – Security of drinking water supply Guidelines for risk and crisis management Part 1: Crisis management
EN 159752:2013 – Security of drinking water supply Guidelines for risk and crisis management Part 2: Risk management