Increased information on waterborne outbreaks through efficient notification system enforces actions towards safe drinking water

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

In 1997, a compulsory notification system for waterborne outbreaks was introduced in Finland. The main aim of this notification is to obtain immediate information on suspected waterborne outbreaks in order to restrict and manage the outbreak promptly. During the past ten years, there have been 67 waterborne outbreaks in Finland, mainly associated with small groundwater supplies or private wells. The number of reported waterborne outbreaks has increased since the launch of the notification system indicating that the threshold limit of outbreak detection has most probably decreased. The number of cases of illness has fulfilled the national health target, which is below 0.01% of the population, but more action is still needed to ensure the production of safe drinking water under all circumstances. Ten years accumulation of knowledge on outbreaks has revealed that a compulsory notification system is an effective tool to gather information on waterborne outbreaks. The system has also increased awareness of possible problems related to the quality of drinking water. This article summarises management and legislative actions and policy measures taken so far in Finland to reduce the number of outbreaks and cases of illness related to them.

Keywords: drinking water, groundwater, management action, microbiological quality, small water supply, waterborne outbreak

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