Category Archives: Drinking Water Standards

Water Safety Plans as a Tool for Arctic Communities

Lane K, Stoddart AK, Gagnon GA. Water safety plans as a tool for drinking water regulatory frameworks in Arctic communities. Environmental science and pollution research international. 2017 Jul 14. doi: 10.1007/s11356-017-9618-9.

Arctic communities often face drinking water supply challenges that are unique to their location. Consequently, conventional drinking water regulatory strategies often do not meet the needs of these communities. A literature review of Arctic jurisdictions was conducted to evaluate the current water management approaches and how these techniques could be applied to the territory of Nunavut in Canada. The countries included are all members of the Arctic Council and other Canadian jurisdictions considered important to the understanding of water management for Northern Canadian communities. The communities in Nunavut face many challenges in delivering safe water to customers due to remoteness, small community size and therefore staffing constraints, lack of guidelines and monitoring procedures specific to Nunavut, and water treatment and distribution systems that are vastly different than those used in southern communities. Water safety plans were explored as an alternative to water quality regulations as recent case studies have demonstrated the utility of this risk management tool, especially in the context of small communities. Iceland and Alberta both currently have regulated water safety plans (WSPs) and were examined to understand shortcomings and benefits if WSPs were to be applied as a possible strategy in Nunavut. Finally, this study discusses specific considerations that are necessary should a WSP approach be applied in Nunavut.

Cyanobacterial Toxins, Toxicological Effects, Numerical Limits in Drinking Water

Miller TR, Beversdorf LJ, Weirich CA, Bartlett SL. Cyanobacterial Toxins of the Laurentian Great Lakes, Their Toxicological Effects, and Numerical Limits in Drinking Water. Marine drugs. 2017 Jun 2;15(6). pii: E160. doi: 10.3390/md15060160.

Cyanobacteria are ubiquitous phototrophic bacteria that inhabit diverse environments across the planet. Seasonally, they dominate many eutrophic lakes impacted by excess nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) forming dense accumulations of biomass known as cyanobacterial harmful algal blooms or cyanoHABs. Their dominance in eutrophic lakes is attributed to a variety of unique adaptations including N and P concentrating mechanisms, N₂ fixation, colony formation that inhibits predation, vertical movement via gas vesicles, and the production of toxic or otherwise bioactive molecules. While some of these molecules have been explored for their medicinal benefits, others are potent toxins harmful to humans, animals, and other wildlife known as cyanotoxins. In humans these cyanotoxins affect various tissues, including the liver, central and peripheral nervous system, kidneys, and reproductive organs among others. They induce acute effects at low doses in the parts-per-billion range and some are tumor promoters linked to chronic diseases such as liver and colorectal cancer. The occurrence of cyanoHABs and cyanotoxins in lakes presents challenges for maintaining safe recreational aquatic environments and the production of potable drinking water. CyanoHABs are a growing problem in the North American (Laurentian) Great Lakes basin. This review summarizes information on the occurrence of cyanoHABs in the Great Lakes, toxicological effects of cyanotoxins, and appropriate numerical limits on cyanotoxins in finished drinking water.

Updating Philippine National Drinking Water Standards

Lomboy M, Riego de Dios J, Magtibay B, Quizon R, Molina V, Fadrilan-Camacho V, See J, Enoveso A, Barbosa L, Agravante A. Updating national standards for drinking-water: a Philippine experience. Journal of water and health. 2017 Apr;15(2):288-295. doi: 10.2166/wh.2016.177.

The latest version of the Philippine National Standards for Drinking-Water (PNSDW) was issued in 2007 by the Department of Health (DOH). Due to several issues and concerns, the DOH decided to make an update which is relevant and necessary to meet the needs of the stakeholders. As an output, the water quality parameters are now categorized into mandatory, primary, and secondary. The ten mandatory parameters are core parameters which all water service providers nationwide are obligated to test. These include thermotolerant coliforms or Escherichia coli, arsenic, cadmium, lead, nitrate, color, turbidity, pH, total dissolved solids, and disinfectant residual. The 55 primary parameters are site-specific and can be adopted as enforceable parameters when developing new water sources or when the existing source is at high risk of contamination. The 11 secondary parameters include operational parameters and those that affect the esthetic quality of drinking-water. In addition, the updated PNSDW include new sections: (1) reporting and interpretation of results and corrective actions; (2) emergency drinking-water parameters; (3) proposed Sustainable Development Goal parameters; and (4) standards for other drinking-water sources. The lessons learned and insights gained from the updating of standards are likewise incorporated in this paper.

Water Safety Plans Could Replace Many USEPA Drinking Water Regulations

The US national drinking water program developed by USEPA under the SDWA is already unsustainable. Adding another requirement would have little benefit and makes little sense. However, using water safety plans (with state approval) to REPLACE MUCH OF THE USEPA REGULATORY BURDEN makes a lot of sense.

Baum R, Amjad U, Luh J, Bartram J. An examination of the potential added value of water safety plans to the United States national drinking water legislation. In Sixth European PhD students workshop: Water and health – Cannes 2014, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health November 2015 218(8):677-685

National and sub-national governments develop and enforce regulations to ensure the delivery of safe drinking water in the United States (US) and countries worldwide. However, periodic contamination events, waterborne endemic illness and outbreaks of waterborne disease still occur, illustrating that delivery of safe drinking water is not guaranteed. In this study, we examined the potential added value of a preventive risk management approach, specifically, water safety plans (WSPs), in the US in order to improve drinking water quality. We undertook a comparative analysis between US drinking water regulations and WSP steps to analyze the similarities and differences between them, and identify how WSPs might complement drinking water regulations in the US. Findings show that US drinking water regulations and WSP steps were aligned in the areas of describing the water supply system and defining monitoring and controls. However, gaps exist between US drinking water regulations and WSPs in the areas of team procedures and training, internal risk assessment and prioritization, and management procedures and plans. The study contributes to understanding both required and voluntary drinking water management practices in the US and how implementing water safety plans could benefit water systems to improve drinking water quality and human health.


“China’s Long March to Safe Drinking Water”

Cover Chinas-Long-March-2015-EN.pdf_page_1

Water Safety Plan for Beijing, China

Bixiong Ye, Yuansheng Chen, Yonghua Li, Hairong Li, Linsheng Yang and Wuyi Wang. Risk assessment and water safety plan: case study in Beijing, China. Journal of Water and Health Vol 13 No 2 pp 510–521 doi:10.2166/wh.2014.101

Two typical rural water utilities in Beijing, China were chosen to describe the principles and applications of water safety plans (WSP), to provide a methodological guide for the actual application and improve the quality of rural drinking water quality, and to establish an appropriate method for WSP applied in rural water supply. Hazards and hazardous events were identified and risk assessment was conducted for rural water supply systems. A total of 13 and 12 operational limits were defined for two utilities, respectively. The main risk factors that affect the water safety were identified in water sources, water processes, water disinfection systems and water utility management. The main control measures were strengthening the water source protection, monitoring the water treatment processes, establishing emergency mechanisms, improving chemical input and operating system management. WSP can be feasibly applied to the management of a rural water supply.

Can Drinking Water Quality be “Governed”? Not really…

I believe this article confuses “access” with “quality”. Access can certainly be opened or closed by government through laws and force. Water quality cannot. Government can impose rules and regulations on people and impose hardships on economies and citizens. But the contaminants in drinking water sources really do not care what government does. Pulling levers of government and society (e.g. taking a Marxist approach to “governing” water quality) by imposing laws and regulations may or may not result in improved water quality. [But it will certainly cause hardship.]

Georgia L. Kayser, Urooj Amjad, Fernanda Dalcanale, Jamie Bartram, Margaret E. Bentley. Drinking water quality governance: A comparative case study of Brazil, Ecuador, and Malawi Environmental Science and Policy April 2015 48:186-195

Human health is greatly affected by inadequate access to sufficient and safe drinking water, especially in low and middle-income countries. Drinking water governance improvements may be one way to better drinking water quality. Over the past decade, many projects and international organizations have been dedicated to water governance; however, water governance in the drinking water sector is understudied and how to improve water governance remains unclear. We analyze drinking water governance challenges in three countries – Brazil, Ecuador, and Malawi – as perceived by government, service providers, and civil society organizations. A mixed methods approach was used: a clustering model was used for country selection and qualitative semi-structured interviews were used with direct observation in data collection. The clustering model integrated political, economic, social and environmental variables that impact water sector performance, to group countries. Brazil, Ecuador and Malawi were selected with the model so as to represent the diversity of the clusters. This comparative case study is important because similar challenges are identified in the drinking water sectors of each country; while, the countries represent diverse socio-economic and political contexts, and the case selection process provides generalizability to our results. We find that access to safe water could be improved if certain water governance challenges were addressed: coordination and data sharing between ministries that deal with drinking water services; monitoring and enforcement of water quality laws; and sufficient technical capacity to improve administrative and technical management of water services at the local level. From an analysis of our field research, we also developed a conceptual framework that identifies policy levers that could be used to influence governance of drinking water quality on national and sub-national levels, and the relationships between these levers.