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Luca Lucentini, Laura Achene, Enrico Veschetti, Valentina Fuscoletti, Federica Nigro Di Gregorio, Rossella Colagrossi, Aldo Di Benedetto



The new Commission Directive (EU) 2015/1787 amending Annexes II and III to Council Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption is an important turning point as it significantly modifies the approach to consumer safety. It introduces as a general rule in the countries of the EU concepts and practices proposed by the water safety plans (WSP).
According to the WHO model of WSP, as transposed in Italian National Guidelines, fundamental component of the WSP is the analysis of the whole water system, from the catchment to consumer; all the potential hazards of each segment of the water system are identified; the risk level of each identified hazard is defined and the relative control procedures established according to a priority scale based on a risk classification.
Among the risk factors the emerging ones are also to be considered, such as the monitoring of chemical compounds previously not analyzed or the monitoring at significantly lower levels of known analytes.
These compounds are generally referred to as contaminants of emerging interest, and the risk posed to human health or to the environment by their presence, together with the frequency or the origin of their presence are not fully known.
WSP are applicable to all water supply systems, irrespective of their size or complexity; large and small scale urban and rural water supply chains. Implementation of the WSP approach requires both financial and technical support from senior management within a utility. It is important that the WSP team has adequate experience and expertise to understand water abstraction, treatment (operation and maintenance), distribution and monitoring so that a comprehensive risk analysis for hazardous events related to any possible hazard is performed through the entire supply system.
Particular focus is made to chemicals which are no targeted within routine monitoring, such as chemicals of geogenic or anthropogenic origin (e.g. uranium, chemicals from old and current industrial and mining contamination, etc.), residues of pharmaceutical, personal hygiene and care products, perfluorinated compounds, nanomaterials.
In view of the forthcoming implementation at national level of the new European Directive the WSP model is being implemented in different Italian regions promoted by different stakeholders, including Ministry of Health, Regional Authorites and water suppliers. The figure 1 shows a map of Italy indicating regions where one or more water safety plans are implemented, under finalization, or in definite planned steps. The National Institute of Health advice (ISS) is following many projects on WSP implementation by providing advice on matters of health risk assessment and management.
Great value of European Directive 2015/1787 concerns the concept of risk assessment by expressly combining health and environmental risk assessment, as stated in Part C “The risk assessment shall take into account the results from the monitoring programmes established by the second subparagraph of Article 7, and Article 8 of Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council for bodies of water identified under Article 7 that provide more than 100 m3 a day on average, in accordance with Annex V to that Directive.”
As implementation of WSPs becomes more widespread, more information about the outcomes and impacts from them should become available, leading to broader recognition of the spectrum of changes that can result from WSPs. The WSP growing implementation is confirming the many benefits of the approach, encompassing not just health, but operational, financial and institutional components. One of the relevant aspects of the implementation of water safety plans is information, data and decision sharing among stakeholders, local and environmental authorities, water suppliers, Municipality, consumers, etc. 
The knowledge acquired by the multiple experience in the field of WSPs is definitely proving in any application case, the effectiveness of the model as the best way to consistently manage drinking water system and protect public health.
Thus WSP approach is actively promoted by the National Italian Health Authorities to be included by the Italian decree transposing Directive (EU) 2015/1787.
The growing experience on Italian WSPs is also being considered to establish key points for the national approval scheme of the WSP in Italy.


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