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In the UK our drinking water is of the highest standard, at a record level of quality and among the best in the world. We can turn on our taps with the certainty of a safe, clean and refreshing supply.

 • Quality standards
 • UK drinking water quality reports
 • How water quality is assured
 • Technical briefings

Quality standards

UK water suppliers place the highest priority on assuring the quality of water provided to their customers. Strict standards for the quality of the public supply are laid down in national regulations derived from the EU Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC). These standards are based on advice from the World Health Organization (WHO) and are regularly reviewed.

    Latest figures for drinking water quality compliance with the strict UK and European standards are:
    England and Wales 99.97%
    Scotland 99.86%
    Northern Ireland 99.78%

Water quality is closely checked and regulated by independent drinking water inspectorates in England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

UK drinking water quality reports

Latest reports  
England & Wales Drinking Water Quality in England and Wales 2013
Published July 2014

Water UK statement
Scotland Drinking Water Quality in Scotland 2012 Published September 2013
Northern Ireland Drinking Water Quality in Northern Ireland 2012
Published September 2013
EU and WHO standards EU Drinking Water Directive

WHO guidelines for drinking water quality

How water quality is assured

Water suppliers have risk assessment and risk management procedures in place to ensure drinking water quality standards are met. These procedures are being developed to work in a more holistic way focusing on the whole of the water supply chain from source to tap. This concept is called water safety plans (WSPs) and is endorsed by the WHO.

The WSP approach also requires that other stakeholders play their part in assuring water quality. This includes managing the protection of water sources and understanding the roles and responsibilities for assuring water quality in buildings, including households.

Technical briefings

Tap water is carefully managed to ensure that it is consistently safe, clean and acceptable to consumers. The greatest concern for water supplies is still the danger of pathogenic micro-organisms that can come from a number of different sources in the environment. Water supplies have a range of barriers (the multiple barrier approach) designed to prevent such contamination.

Water UK publishes detailed briefings and technical backgrounds on water quality assurance and management of specific substances.

Technical briefings


Drinking water quality


Water supply hygiene; quality reporting

Technical briefings

How the quality of drinking water is assured
Access technical briefing papers here

Quality regulators

Drinking Water Inspectorate
England & Wales

Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland

Drinking Water Inspectorate (within the Northern Ireland Environment Agency)
Northern Ireland

Water Safety Plans

WHO Water Safety Plans
Managing drinking water safety from catchment to consumer
WHO 2005

EU standards

EU Drinking Water Directive
Council Directive 98/83/EC

Revision of the Drinking Water Directive
Background and progress
(European Commission)

Stakeholder newsMonthly e-news
The View from
Water UK

Water UK

Tue 22 Jul 2014, 16:38
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