The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) for England and Wales has published a position paper on how it will uphold drinking water standards if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.
It has outlined its position and principles of future arrangements to ensure consumers of public water supplies continue to have access to safe and clean drinking water after Brexit.
The DWI says consumers enjoy some of the “highest quality water in the world” and it does not expect the departure from the EU to “compromise this in any way”, whether in the “immediate aftermath or longer term”.
Quality standards set out in European legislation have been transposed into national legislation together with some “additional” national requirements.
The Floods and Water EU exit regulations ensure existing EU water law continues to operate in UK law.
DWI said it will continue to uphold obligations through monitoring compliance with the current national requirements and “any future iterations”.
As the drinking water regulator, the DWI has been “working very closely” with the water industry to understand its work on assessing any “key vulnerabilities” once the UK leaves the EU.
“Companies are well advanced in their preparations to meet their statutory responsibility of maintaining a clean water supply.
“As the water quality regulator this remains our minimum expectation and we are following their progress closely,” the DWI said.
It added: “The continued provision of clean water, around the clock, is a public health priority and our primary objective.
“Water companies have well-established communication channels with the DWI, and any incidents of non-compliance with statutory requirements are reported.
“Were a situation of non-compliance to occur, DWI would be prepared to use its investigatory powers to scrutinise the actions taken by a company in order to decide what enforcement measures would be required.”
The government has been “working closely” with water companies to prepare for all scenarios of the UK’s exit from the EU, including a “no deal” Brexit.
Utility Week understands the water industry is assessing alternative port and customs logistics for vital chemicals should the UK leave the EU on 29 March with no deal in place.
The DWI was established by parliament in 1990 to provide independent assurance that the privatised water industry in England and Wales delivers safe, clean drinking water to consumers.