Water UK strategy for addressing lead in drinking water
This document outlines the strategy and policies that the water industry should adopt to continue to work towards compliance with the standard for lead in drinking water.
Changes to the EU standard for lead have been phased in since 1998 and the final standard of 10ug/l comes into force on 25 December 2013.
Exposure of consumers to lead in drinking water has reduced dramatically as a result of a twin track approach of chemical treatment (phosphate dosing) and communication pipe replacement.
While the approach taken by the water industry, supported by the regulators, has resulted in measurable improvements to both the concentrations of lead in drinking water and also the overall exposure of society to lead there are a number of drivers for change that require the industry to review its strategy and to implement additional policies to ensure that these successes are continued.
Our strategy is to:
• Continue with the twin track approach of phosphate dosing and communication pipe replacement (both opportunistic and as part of planned programmes).
• Adopt a risk based approach by addressing the public health implications of exposure to lead via lead pipes, both under water company ownership and those for which the homeowner is responsible. This will not necessarily involve whole scale lead pipe replacement but will focus largely on identifying risk areas or populations and working with stakeholders to ensure that that all available options are being considered.
• Develop a communication programme that not only demonstrates the successes to date in ensuring drinking water meets quality standards but clearly articulates that there is a big challenge facing the water industry and society in order to deal with the problem of lead in drinking water and achieve the revised quality standards.
• Encourage government to provide a steer to the direction the UK wishes to take on lead and work to identify those areas where water companies can take a proactive role.
• Work with quality and economic regulators to ensure that water companies are able to carry out any mandated activity in a manner in which costs are borne fairly and appropriately.