Main authors: Cors van den Brink, Sarah Zernitz, Alma de Vries
Editor: Jane Brandt
Source document: »van den Brink, C. et al. (2021) Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Water Safety Plans. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 2.4, 97 pp


One of FAIRWAY's research topics is Water Safety Planning for adequate drinking water protection for small and large supplies. Our aim is to stimulate the improvement of drinking water safety across the European Union by sharing context, best practices and lessons learned on Water Safety Planning for both small and large water supplies (see »Lessons learned and recommendations for Water Safety Plans).

Data and information was collected from the Baixo Mondego case study and used as described here.

Contents table
1. Survey of case studies
2. Key lessons learned

1. Survey of case studies

All 13 FAIRWAY case studies were surveyed to see whether or not a Water Safety Plan (WSP), or equivalent, is in place within their area (see »Approach and methodology).

Baixo Mondego does have a Water Safety Plan in place.

Further questions were asked to distill more details on the WSP approach: on the register of water supplies, risk assessment/risk management (RA/RM), communication and awareness, and stakeholder roles and responsibilities (see »Lessons learned and recommendations)

Baixo Mondego case study provided the following information about the local Water Safety Plan.

1.1 How is Water Safety Planning (RA/RM) organised in the case study country (regulations and responsibilities)? And are there differences in how this is organized for (very) small and large supplies?

National regulation: In Portugal, there is no legislation that defines the obligation to develop a WSP. Although, Law-Decrete 152/2017 (water for human consumption) refers the mandatory risk assessment in the water supply management systems.

Responsibilities: Register and RA/RM: Drinking water authority - Águas do Centro Litoral.

1.2 How is the risk assessment and risk management executed? Are there differences in how RA/RM is carried out for (very) small and large supplies?

A technical guide is provided describing the methodology: Risk assessment in the water supply management systems, from abstraction to distribution (ERSAR Technical Guide nº 7). Electronic platform tool – NADIA. The WHO WSP steps are followed: team, description of the system, control measures, evaluation matrices, improvement plan, management supporting procedures. To identify hazards information on previous events is used. Risk assessment is carried out based on the probability of occurrence and assessment of consequences. For small supplies without professional management: they are private and no assessment or control is performed.

1.3 How are stakeholders involved in Water Safety Planning (RA/RM)? (How) does this contribute to increased protection or support for measures? Are there differences between (very) small and large supplies?  

Different departments within water company: administration areas, company’s entrepreneurial sustainability, laboratory, water supply, communication, maintenance and engineering. Both customers and authorities (health authorities; Portuguese Environment Agency) gave their opinion.

2. Key lessons learned

Key lessons learned from Baixo Mondego and all case studies are that

  1. Engagement of stakeholders is essential during all phases of RA/RM / Water Safety Planning.
  2. The designation of a process owner helps in bringing together departments and stakeholders, spreading information throughout organizations and providing congruence between different RA/RM systems.
  3. An agreed upon methodology and content enhances the effectiveness of Water Safety Planning and cooperation and communication between those involved.


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