|Main authors:||Cors van den Brink, Sarah Zernitz, Alma de Vries|
|Source document:||»van den Brink, C. et al. (2021) Lessons Learned and Recommendations for Water Safety Plans. FAIRWAY Project Deliverable 2.4, 97 pp|
|2. Information on Water Safety Planning in the case studies|
|3. Recommendations for large supplies|
|4. Recommendations for small supplies|
Based on more in-depth analysis of experiences with Water Safety Planning in the case studies, an analysis is carried out on lessons learned and recommendations for Water Safety Planning. Here we offer recommendations to responsible authorities on Water Safety Planning for both large and small supplies. However, the case studies only include large supplies. Therefore, mainly information on large supplies is gathered. However, from field visits within case study countries, it is seen that (very) small supplies do exist. Therefore, some of the case studies have provided information on how is dealt with small supplies. This information is used to formulate some recommendations for Water Safety Planning for (very) small supplies. We start with an overview of information gathered on Water Safety Planning in the case studies then go on to provide recommendations for large and small supplies.
The following tables give an overview of the information gathered on Water Safety Planning in the case studies, specifically within three themes:
- 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?
- 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?
- 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?
2.1 Organization of Water Safety Planning / RA/RM in the case studies
Table 2: 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?
|Case study||National regulation||Responsibilities|
|Island Tunø, DK
The Order on Quality Assurance of Public Water Supply systems is the Danish implementation of WSP and the Drinking Water Directive.
In this order (section 4.) it is stated that public water-supply systems supplying more than 750,000 m3 of water per year must meet the requirements of § 3 by introducing ISO22000, or systems based on HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points) or equivalent systems. This ISO standard does not apply to small supplies. Different method of quality assurance must be introduced by smaller supplies. In Denmark there are around 50.000 private wells. For private wells there is a low degree of regulations and no demands on monitoring the quality.
Keep and maintain register of water supplies: municipalities, state and water works.
RA/RM and WSP: water works and the municipalities.
|Anglian Region, UK||
RA/RM is covered in regulation 27 and 28 of the Water Quality regulations set by Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the UK.
Regulation covers all sizes of public water supply.
Private Boreholes are covered by Private Borehole Regulations, which are enforced by Local Council, which submit a risk assessment as defined by the Private Water Supply Regulations.
Asset register for boreholes: Water company.
Register for abstraction licencing purposes: Environment Agency.
RA/RM: Water company (main actors: Water Quality Risk Team and Water Resources and Catchment Team).
Check and audit RA: Drinking Water Inspectorate.
|Lower Saxony, DE||RA/RM is covered in Drinking Water Act.|
It is worked out in the procedure to set-up Drinking Water Protection Files and embedded in the WFD-activities & procedures.
The obligation for RA/RM only applies to large drinking water abstractions. Small / Industrial abstractions have either no obligation to report regularly or report to the industrial food safety authority.
|Province (regional government) is responsible for RA/RM.|
The drinking water regulation "Forskrift om vannforsyning og drikkevann" of 2017 implements the Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EF) and is intended to follow the main principles of water safety plans.
The regulation applies to all drinking water supplies, but there are less detailed requirements for very small water supply systems (<10 m³).
Register of drinking water supplies: Norwegian Food Safety Authority (NFSA).
Water suppliers provide info through online-form to NFSA.
Data transferred to Waterworks Register (Norwegian Institue of Public Health).
RA/RM: water supply company.
|Baixo Mondego, PT||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.||Register and RA/RM: Drinking water authority: Águas do Centro Litoral.|
Law no. 458/2002 with its subsequent modifications done by Ordinance no. 22/2017 transposes the European Directive no. 83/1998 related to the quality of water for human consumption with is subsequent modifications done by the European Directive no. 1787/2015.
These are mandatory for large size water supplies and is considered as good practice for small and very small water supplies.
Register: country offices for public health.
RA/RM: water suppliers and country offices for public health through their laboratories for water quality analyses.
In case of household supply (private wells) the risk assessment is the responsibility of the owner. If there are supplies (public wells) which serve a small community, the risk assessment is the responsibility of the County office for public health together with the mayor of the village.
|Dravsko Polje, SI||RA/RM is embedded in national regulations, in the Decree on drinking water supply and Rules on drinking water obligational to all public suppliers.||
Register: Slovenian Environmental Agency.
RA/RM: public water supply company (owned by local municipality).
In all case study countries RA/RM is embedded in national regulations. There are differences between case studies whether the same regulations apply to large and small supplies. Furthermore, the responsible authority/authorities vary between the case studies. Although, in most case studies the water supply company is responsible for RA/RM. This is often combined with a specific role for the local/regional/national government. In the Netherlands, the provincie carries primary responsibility for RA/RM of the water supplies as they are the responsible authority to protect groundwater used for drinking water purposes. Lastly, it can be seen that within the water supply company or authority different departments and teams are involved in RA/RM. This requires coordination between different departments/teams within the organizations.
2.2 Risk assessment and risk management
Table 3: 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?
|Case study||How is RA/RM executed?|
|Island Tunø, DK
Waterworks is certified after four standards:
A water safety plan for a large supply in Denmark is a combination of these certifications, environmental status reports, action plans and groundwater protection plans.
For large supplies the ISO22000 standards apply, which do not apply to smaller ones (17.000-750.000 m3 per year). Smaller water supplies must introduce quality assurance by: 1) mapping water supply and quality thereof; 2) mapping water supply’s operating procedures; 3) assess the risk of contamination of the water from the overall production system; 4) draw up an action plan; 5) continuously monitor and document that the supply has implemented the planned measures. In Denmark there are around 50.000 private wells. For private wells there no demands on monitoring the quality.
|Anglian Region, UK||
Every water company has the ability to risk assess following the template of Regulation 28 of the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations.
All sources - large and small are treated the same in terms of risk assessment process. One size fits all. Training wise- modules that internal Anglian Water staff do in relation to Reg 28.
Vulnerability of aquifer to pollution is assessed, and hazards are identified. Methods used: GIS datasets, catchment walkovers, history of sample results, investigations, modelling.
Risks are identified in different stages of the water supply system: catchment risks, treatment risks, supply risks, customer risks – all link in together. Risks are scored in low, medium and high risks. Based on Source-Pathway-Receptor model a database is used, which draws from a number of different AW internal datasets and the outputs from onsite assessments/audits. It calculates the risk for specific hazard groups, based on a number of pre-defined components. Likelihood is incorporated into the scoring mechanism. Risk scores are validated on an annual basis using actual sample data and risk scores adjusted accordingly.
|Lower Saxony, DE||Methodological guidance of DIN ENG 15975-2. This is equal to WHO WSP format.|
RA/RM is executed by the Drinking Water Protection File. In a national platform the table of content is agreed on and the province is in charge of the process to set-up these DWPF.
The DWPF describes the status of a drinking water abstraction, assesses the vulnerability, assesses risks (both physical and from lacking protection policy) and formulates measures to overcome these risks / meet the WFD of simple purification effort. The Province chaires the project team which sets up the DWPF and is in charge of involving all relevant stakeholders. Stakeholders are asked to provide info about potential risks, check that info and are also consulted about possible measures in which they are involved.
For small supplies: in certain instances a quick-scan of the risks is carried out.
Guidance document on RA/RM is available.
The methodology for risk mapping is optional. There is however a guiding document on increased security and response in the water supply ("Økt sikkerhet og beredskap i vannforsyningen") which provides a suggested framework in line with the Norwegian standard NS-EN 15975-2 (Security of drinking water supply - Guidelines for risk and crisis management - Part 2: Risk management).
If the water supply chooses a risk-based approach to provide fewer samples than the minimum requirement, NS-EN 15975-2 or an equivalent method has to be applied.
The emergency response plan is required to comply with the regulation on emergency response planning ("Forskrift om krav til beredskapsplanlegging og beredskapsarbeid, mv.") which applies the methodology for risk and vulnerability assessments (ROS-analyse).
The Water Safety Plan for Vansjø/MOVAR consists of two parts. Part A identifies the risks: it describes the water supply system, identifies the vulnerable users, identifies risks, and lists incidents. Part B assesses the risks on the basis of criteria on probability and consequences. Furthermore it assesses the measures.
For small supplies: Online guidance is provided on drinking water from wells.
|Baixo Mondego, PT||
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.
National technical standards.
It is mandatory for large size water suppliers to accomplish WSP. In case of small and very small water suppliers is considered as good practice to accomplish WSP.
|Dravsko Polje, SI||In Slovenia a HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) system is in place for RA/RM and an Action Plan is developed.|
Table 3 shows the information gathered on the execution of risk assessment and risk management. In many case study countries some form of agreed methodology for RA/RM / Water Safety Planning is in place. This is disseminated in different forms, such as a guidance document, template, content page, regulatory standards, or an electronic tool. In some case studies this specific method is optional and adaptations can be made. In other case studies, the responsible authority/organization is obligated to follow this specific method. The Vansjø, NO case study shared that standardized methods, and an agreed upon methodology, enable better and more effective communication between drinking water suppliers. In some of the case studies the WHO WSP elements or steps are followed. In others, other systems for RA/RM are used, such as systems based on HACCP principles or ISO standards. The WHO WSP approach is a comprehensive risk assessment and risk management approach, that covers all steps in the water supply. It can be seen that in some case studies multiple RA/RM approaches are used for the different steps in the water supply. The combination of the outcomes of all RA/RM approaches gives an overview of the hazards from source to tap. This could also mean that the outcomes of RA/RM end up in different documents. In some case study countries, for example Denmark and the Netherlands, different methods for RA/RM are in place for large and small supplies. These distinct methods reflect both the different challenges that small supplies face in water safety planning and the fact that for small water supplies usually less information is available, such as the recharge area and travel times of the abstracted water.
2.3 Involvement of stakeholders
Table 4: 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?
|Case study||Stakeholder involvement|
|Island Tunø, DK
|Municipalities and water works.|
|Anglian Region, UK||There are many stakeholders who interact with the supply of water from source to tap who are consulted as part of the RA process, both internally and externally. Multiple stakeholders, such as farmers, emenity, horse owners, are also involved in terms of catchment management. Water Quality risk team and Water Resources and Catchment Team are the main actors involved.|
|Province (authority), drinking water company, municipalities, water boards, agricultural lobby organization (main stakeholders). Depending on specific issues, other stakeholders may be involved: railway, industry, national water authority.|
In process of identifying vulnerable users, municipal doctor and regional branches of the NFSA can be involved.
Water company: owns the assessments, the emergency response plan and emergency response in itself.
Municipalities that own the drinking water company: client and affected.
Other water works: support/cooperation.
The National Food Safety Authority: authority and guide.
|Baixo Mondego, PT||
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.
|Arges-Vedea, RO||Water suppliers: accomplishing the RA/RM and WSP; county offices for public health: supervising the RA/RM and WSP; operators from foodstuff activity area, local medical stuff, end users: inform of any possible hazard event.|
|Dravsko Polje, SI||
Drinking Water Supply Company. Municipalities. Ministry for environment. Ministry of Health checks water quality at users’ homes.
Table 4 shows the information gathered on the involvement of stakeholders in risk assessment and management. In most case studies the involvement of stakeholders is limited to the different teams within the water supply company and government. RA/RM is often carried out by experts, based on expert knowledge, using data and modelling. In the case studies in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands stakeholders are actively involved in water safety planning. In the UK stakeholders who interact with the water system from source to tap are consulted as part of the RA/RM process. Furthermore, stakeholders are involved through the catchment management system. In the Netherlands it is explicitly mentioned that stakeholders are involved in a process, coordinated by the regional government (Province), to develop drinking water protection files (DWPF) and consequently a program of measures. Stakeholders such as the Water Boards, Agricultural organizations and municipalities (and for specific issues: railway, industry, national water authority) are involved in identifying the vulnerability of the system, assessing the hazards and the risks. The Dutch case study shares that through this process consensus is created about the risks. Consequently, this paves the way for agreeing on measures as well. Even so, the Portuguese case study has shared that the interactions with the stakeholders should be deepened.
Based on the analysis of Water Safety Planning in the case studies, three recommendations can be made for large supplies:
- Water Safety Planning – a process with a process owner.
- Agreement on methodology and content.
- Involvement of stakeholders.
3.1 Water Safety Planning – a process with a process owner
Water Safety Planning is a process, rather than a product. It is a process in which several organizations or departments/teams are involved. Furthermore, in some cases it consists of several parallel processes. This poses some challenges:
- Different teams could be involved. This complicates the spreading of knowledge on vulnerability, hazards and risks within the organization.
- Information on -and outcomes of RA/RM of different elements of the water supply could end up in different places, rather than being collected together and combined in one output.
- Parallel processes of RA/RM (different RA/RM processes for elements of the water supply system) could also mean that risks are estimated and prioritized differently.
This shows the importance of a process owner, who is responsible for -and coordinates this process of Water Safety Planning. This could be an authority (national, regional or local government), because then enforcement could be easier.
The process owner could also be the water supply company, since then the interests of the water supply and knowledge/expertise is bundled. The process owner can bring together departments and stakeholders, can spread information throughout organizations and aids in providing congruence between different RA/RM systems (if they do exist).
3.2 Agreement on methodology and content
Working towards more harmonization and generic arrangements for a RA/RM could improve current practices, developing a more uniform and transparent approach to RA/RM. The case studies show that the existence of an agreed upon methodology enhances the effectiveness of Water Safety Planning in several ways.
- Firstly, a structured RA/RM approach contributes to a comprehensive overview of all risks – and enables a strategic planning of the Water Safety Planning (see f.i. paragraph 4.6).
- Secondly, a generic approach enhances the communication and cooperation between water supply companies.
- Thirdly, harmonization of the approach enables the evaluation of the RA/RM results at the scale of a water company, province or country, which can help to substantiate strategic decisions in protection policy.
- Fourthly, the need for a harmonized approach is amplified in case of a large incident.
3.3 Involvement of stakeholders
In densely populated areas groundwater protection is increasingly competing with other interests and themes, such as agriculture, urban & industrial functions or the energy transition (geothermal energy). It can therefore no longer be considered as a stand-alone theme, but should be considered in a social context. Furthermore, groundwater protection is increasingly seen as a complex environmental problem (Simpson & De Loë, 2020), rather than a relatively simple and predictable problem. The Dutch case shared that the interest of groundwater protection compared to other interests is usually low. In addition, the timescale of groundwater protection compared to the political or social timescale is long, which enhances the competition with other interests.
It is therefore important to engage stakeholders in the risk assessment and risk management of a water supply. In the Netherlands stakeholders are involved in this process, coordinated by the regional government (Province), to develop drinking water protection files (DWPF) and consequently a program of measures. Stakeholders such as the Water Boards, Agricultural organizations and municipalities are involved in identifying the vulnerability of the system, assessing the hazards and the risks. Through this process consensus is created about the risks. Consequently, this paves the way for agreeing on measures as well. The Portuguese case shares that the interactions with the stakeholders should be deepened. In the UK stakeholders are consulted as part of RA/RM and involved in terms of catchment management.
Stakeholder involvement was also mentioned by the Greek case while evaluating the learning module: ‘the module educates all kinds of stakeholders’. On the other hand it was added that ‘the implementation of a WSP, selection of measures, and final application is not always a matter of all stakeholders’. The Danish case study of Tunø also illustrates the need for stakeholder involvement. The drinking water abstraction of the small island Tunø suffered from a strong increase of nitrate concentrations in the groundwater by the public drinking water facility in the nineties of last century. As the nitrate concentrations exceeded the standards, urgent action was needed. Regional authorities (the former county) assisted by agricultural scientists analysed the site, recovered the source of the nitrate pollution and presented scenarios. The economic most feasible scenario consisted of a change of agricultural land-use (permanent grass rather than leek) facilitated by contracts which were favourable for the farmers. This scenario resulted in a quick reduction of the nitrate concentrations resulting in safe nitrate levels in the abstracted groundwater. Just a few years ago, the contracts finished and as part of the EU-FAIRWAY project the process was evaluated. Several key stakeholders have been interviewed and most of the farmers ignored that there had been a problem at all. They still believed that the press and authorities created the problem and that the only reason for accepting the solution were the favourable conditions of the contracts.
This example illustrates that a sound scientific solution not necessarily results in stakeholder engagement and solving a real-world problem. Key lesson learned is that engagement of stakeholders is essential during all phases of the project: the phase of the identification of the problem, assessment of the problem, scenarios to solve the problem and in the phase of implementing the solution.
As mentioned before, the information received from the FAIRWAY case study leaders mainly applies to large supplies. However, based on field visits carried out within the EU-FAIRWAY project and some specific information provided by some case studies, it is known that small supplies are present in the participating countries. Therefore some recommendations are made for small supplies based on general information on water safety planning and experience and procedures participating countries apply for small supplies.
As discussed in »Water Safety Planning, small systems typically face challenges that set them distinctly apart from large supplies in the context of Water Safety Planning. One of those challenges relate to the limited availability of specialized knowledge and expertise, and access to information and technical support. The experience in the case study of Norway can aid in overcoming this challenge. In Norway an information brochure is specifically targeted at small suppliers. Furthermore, small suppliers are encouraged to have an agreement with larger suppliers to get access to necessary competence and knowledge. Small suppliers can be aided by developing networks for cooperation.
In some case studies a specific method is provided for small supplies. This is for example the case in Denmark and the Netherlands. Such a method specifically aimed at small supplies can help to overcome the challenges that are faced by small supplies in water safety planning, for example the lack of availability of specific data. »Annex 2 shows a quick-scan, an example of a WSP for a very small water supply in the Netherlands, and explains how RA/RM is executed for a small privately-owned supply in the Netherlands. This quick scan focusses on:
- Assessment of vulnerability of the groundwater abstraction by assessing the characteristics of the subsoil and soil types.
- Assessment of potential sources near the groundwater abstraction.
Based on this quick scan of the specific vulnerability and threat of the resource, a rough indication of the risks can be made.
For full references to papers quoted in this article see »References
Download Annex 2