From international developments to local practice: Germany's evaluation and dialogue process towards Water Safety Plan implementation

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The third edition of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality establishes a ‘Framework for Safe Drinking-water’ that promotes a risk assessment and risk management approach called Water Safety Plan (WSP). In Germany, the discussion on the WSP approach started with significant scepticism by various stakeholders questioning its added value in light of the high quality and service level of water supply. In response, the Federal Ministry of Health, the Federal Environment Agency and the DVGW Association for Gas and Water jointly took the leadership for initiating a sectoral dialogue process involving water suppliers and local public health offices, including a series of WSP pilot projects to evaluate WSP feasibility, benefits and expected challenges for scaling-up. As the regulatory system in Germany makes explicit reference to ‘generally acknowledged codes of good practice’ the paper also examines how far the suite of established DVGW technical and managerial standards already supports WSP implementation. The evaluation process confirmed an added value of the WSP approach under Germany's national conditions, clearly providing an impetus for safeguarding a high quality and service level of drinking-water supply. Various activities to support scale-up implementation of a WSP-type approach have been initiated, including the preparation of step-by-step guidance in German (i.e. DVGW Guidelines W 1001), information campaigns to broadly raise awareness amongst all stakeholders in water supply, and capacity building initiatives.

Keywords: drinking-water quality, Germany, pilot projects, technical and managerial standards, Water Safety Plan, water supply

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