Report No FR0429
OCCURRENCE OF PESTICIDES IN DRINKING WATER
IN SELECTED EUROPEAN COUNTRIES
The UK water industry will gain an insight into problems of implementation and compliance with the pesticides parameter of the European Council (EC) Directive Relating to the Quality of Water for Human Consumption (80/778/EEC), and strategies to deal with these, in other European countries.
The objective of this study was to review the implementation of the pesticides parameter of the EC drinking water directive, the pesticide monitoring strategies, and recent results of monitoring programmes in selected European countries (Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Switzerland and Finland).
Throughout the European Community, considerable difficulties have been experienced in complying with the pesticides parameter of the EC drinking water directive (maximum admissible concentration -1AC) 0.1 µg l-1 individual pesticides, 0.5 µg l-1 total pesticides and related substances). This report reviews the extent of the problems and strategies of dealing with it in selected EC Member and non-Member States.
- All EC Member States and non-Member States covered in this review have implemented the EC drinking water directive, but details of the implementation of the pesticides parameter vary in different countries.
- Most countries have some problems in complying with the EC pesticides parameter, and considerable investments are necessary to install additional treatment to comply with this parameter.
- Some countries appear to have far less comprehensive systems than the UK for monitoring and reporting drinking water quality data.
- Regulations in Germany and The Netherlands clearly state that the pesticides parameter includes important pesticide degradation products.
- The authorities of most countries issue derogations where pesticides exceed the EC MAC, provided that health-based limits (World Health Organization guideline values or similar values) are not exceeded, though the Department of Health in Germany has issued a list of pesticides and degradation products for which no derogations are permitted.
- Derogations may be issued on a time-limited basis, and have to be backed by improvement programmes.
- In cases of exceedance of health-based limits, supplies are shut down in Germany and Switzerland, and are likely to be shut down in The Netherlands, but not in France, where the public merely has to be warned not to drink the water.
- Except in Austria, there are no prescribed lists of pesticides for monitoring in drinking water, although there are some recommended priority lists. Pesticides to be monitored are usually selected on the basis of usage, persistence, mobility, toxicological concerns and availability of analytical techniques.
- There appears to be a lack of suitable analytical techniques for some pesticides and degradation products.
- There is considerable emphasis on protection of water supplies: several countries reviewed adopt strict controls on pesticide approval and usage; Germany in particular, is a strong proponent of using groundwater protection zones whilst The Netherlands are moving away from implementing groundwater protection zones towards tighter controls on the use of pesticides in general.
- In Austria drinking water standards apply equally as quality objectives for groundwater, whilst in The Netherlands quality objectives similar to the pesticide MAC in drinking water have been set for surface water and groundwater.
- There is evidence that control strategies are successful, resulting in reductions in pesticide levels in raw water supplies, particularly in Germany and The Netherlands.
- A court in Germany has ruled that a by-product of vitamin C production, diacetoneketogulonate which is chemically identical to the pesticide dikegulac, was not subject to the pesticides parameter. A similar argument could be applied to exempt trichloro acetic acid, a herbicide which can be present in drinking water as a by-product of chlorination.
V RESUME OF CONTENTS
This report reviews the implementation of the pesticides parameter, monitoring strategies and results of recent monitoring programmes, as well as the approaches taken to deal with non-compliance in EC Member States (Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium and Italy) and non-Member States (Austria, Switzerland and Finland). The report summarises the main findings, whereas Appendices A to F provide further details for Germany, France, The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Switzerland.
Copies of the report are available from FWR, price £35.00, less 20% to FWR Members.