Implementing EU Directive 2015/1787 on the safety and quality of Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water for Human Consumption

Closed 18 Jan 2018

Opened 14 Dec 2017

Results expected 8 Feb 2018

Feedback expected 15 Feb 2018


Commission Directive (EU) 2015/1787 (the Directive) amending Annexes II and III to Council Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption alters the monitoring requirements for spring water and bottled drinking water and makes changes to the methods of analysis to be used in monitoring. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is intending to implement the Directive by adjusting domestic legislation to take account of the changes the Directive makes.

In the UK, water for human consumption is covered by a range of regulatory regimes covering statutory requirements for public water supplies, private water supplies and bottled drinking water.  

  1. The amendments made by the Directive have a more significant impact for public and private water regimes.
  2. In England and Wales the public drinking water regulations (which govern the supply of water from water companies) are enforced by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). The private drinking water regulations (which mostly govern naturally occurring supplies) are enforced by local authorities under supervision from DWI.
  3. Defra is responsible for the implementation of the Directive in relation to public and private drinking water regulations in England. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish Government are responsible for the implementation of the Directive in relation to those water supplies in those regions. The transposing regulations in England will be the Water Supply (Water Quality) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 and the Private Water Supplies (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2017 although they are yet to come into force.
  4. This consultation applies to the domestic legislation required to implement the Directive in relation to spring water and bottled drinking water. All water which has been bottled for human consumption is classified as a food in accordance with EU law, but Natural Mineral Water is governed by its own directive and not affected by these changes.
  5. Food is devolved, and as such, Defra is responsible for the implementation of this Directive in England; The Food Standards Agency is responsible for implementation in Northern Ireland and Wales; and Food Standards Scotland is respectively responsible in Scotland. 

What will change

  1. The Directive concerns amendments to Council Directive 98/83/EC, taking into account the World Health Organisation (WHO) approach to risk assessment, as well as scientific and technical progress. The amendment brings EU drinking water requirements in line with international requirements and covers the parameters (microbiological and chemical criteria) currently required to be analysed for monitoring purposes; and the specifications (analytical requirements) set out for their analysis. 
  2. Annex II of Council Directive 98/83/EC already contained a degree of flexibility in the monitoring requirements to be applied by Member States, which allows for less frequent sampling under certain circumstances.  However these requirements are currently not applicable to bottled drinking water which has a separate monitoring regime set out in accordance with volume of production.
  3. The Directive now introduces risk-based monitoring as it recognises that monitoring of all parameters is sometimes unnecessary. This should reduce the amount of monitoring required in many cases. The importance of maintaining public health remains paramount though, as reduced monitoring should only take place where there is no evident risk to human health. As such, Member States are provided the opportunity to make adjustments to the monitoring programmes they have established to take account of risk assessments. 
  4. The table in Annex II to Council Directive 98/83/EC which sets out minimum monitoring frequencies for ‘check’ and ‘audit’ monitoring (the difference between ‘check’ and ‘audit’ monitoring relates to the parameters and frequency of those samples) for spring water and bottled drinking water has been removed from the Directive and is now regarded as obsolete (on the grounds that food safety requirements in Regulation (EC) 178/2002 apply covering general food law). Those products are also covered by the principle of ‘hazard analysis and critical control point’ (HACCP) laid down in Regulation (EC) 852/2004 and the principles of official controls as laid down in Regulation (EC) 882/2004. As a consequence of the adoption of those Regulations, Annex II to Directive 98/83/EC no longer applies to water put into bottles or containers intended for sale. Domestic provisions which implemented Annex II will be removed from domestic legislation.
  5. The Directive also make changes to the current methods of analysis. In particular, it will change the minimum performance characteristics, in other words the standards necessary for methods of analysis to comply with the requirements. Domestic provisions which implemented Annex III will be amended to reflect the new methodology in domestic legislation.

Impact and Costs

  1. The changes aim to maintain a level of intervention by authorities that is proportionate, while ensuring a high degree of consumer safety and updating the methods of analysis to the latest scientist advice.  
  2. The Directive will remove the requirement for enforcement authorities to provide ‘check’ and ‘audit’ monitoring for spring water and bottled drinking water under Annex II to Council Directive 98/83/EU. However, monitoring requirements under Regulations (EU) 178/2002 and 852/2004 will remain, as well residual monitoring obligations under Article 7 of the Council Directive 98/83/EU, so monitoring by food authorities will continue to be required.
  3. There is no evidence to suggest that the difference in resources expended to ensure compliance with the appropriate legislation will change significantly. Similarly, there is no evidence to suggest that the responsibility of FBOs will change, as their existing HACCP plan should provide verification that they have validated systems in place. These will ensure that they provide safe food under Regulation 178/2002 and have controls in place to mitigate against any hazards under Regulation 852/2004. This includes the need to demonstrate that the product meets the parameters in the corresponding Schedules of the 2007 Regulations as appropriate to the category of water.
  4. Therefore, it is considered that the measures in this consultation are cost-neutral and, as such, Defra have not prepared an impact assessment. The department would welcome comments on any costs or benefits we have not considered or challenges to the assumptions made in this section.

Stakeholders and accessibility

The list of stakeholders who may be interested in the implementation of the Directive are:

  • Consumers
  • Food Businesses – bottled water
  • Trade Associations – bottled water
  • Local Authorities 
  • Food Standards Agency
  • Food Standards Scotland                            
  • Port Health Authorities
  • Public Analysts
  • Testing Laboratories

All stakeholders, including members of the public, will be able to access the consultation through the Citizen Space online consultation tool.

Confidentiality and data protection

Within the Online Survey there will be a question relating to Confidentiality and Data Protection and a full explanation of what this means.

Why we are consulting

The UK Government has a legal duty to consult on substantial policy changes, considering the full range of people, business and voluntary bodies affected by the policy.

This consultation will be conducted in accordance with the Consultation Principles Guidance, which is available from:

What happens next

Once the consultation has been closed, all responses will be considered and a summary of responses and Defra’s comments on those responses will be provided on Citizen Space website. If changes are required to the policy or intended legislation as a result of comments received, communication of such decisions will also take place after the consultation has closed.


  • Environmental campaigners
  • Food Business Operators
  • Food Industry
  • Government Departments
  • Government Agencies
  • Devolved Administrations
  • Industries and professional services
  • Water/water Industry sector
  • Environmental professional services
  • Local Authorities
  • Consumer Groups
  • Local Authorities
  • Water suppliers
  • Environmental Health Officers
  • Consultants


  • Food standards