Skip to main content

Drinking Water

Drinking Water

Here you can find the EU and other legislation and guidance about drinking water.

  • EU legislation

    Directive (EU) 2020/2184 (OJ L 435, p.1, 23.12.2020) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 16 December 2020 on the quality of water intended for human consumption (recast)

    Directive 2000/60/EC (OJ L 327, p1, 22.12.2000) of the European Parliament and of the Council of 23 October 2000 establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy.

    Commission Recommendation 2001/928/Euratom (OJ L 344, p85, 28.12.2001) of 20 December 2001 on the protection of the public against exposure to radon in drinking water supplies.

  • National legislation
  • General provisions

    General Provisions

    The basic standards governing the quality of drinking water intended for human consumption, whether in its original state or after treatment are set out in Directive (EU) 2020/2184.

    The objectives of this Directive are to protect human health from the adverse effects of any contamination of water intended for human consumption by ensuring that it is wholesome and clean, and to improve access to water intended for human consumption.

    Directive (EU) 2020/2184 has been transposed into national legislation by the European (Drinking Water) Regulations 2023 (S.I. No. 99 of 2023)

    Under these Regulations "water intended for human consumption" means all water—

    (a) either in its original state or after treatment, intended for drinking, cooking, food preparation or other domestic-type purposes in both public and private premises, regardless of its origin and whether it is supplied from a distribution network, from a private source, supplied from a tanker or similar means, and

    (b) used in any food business for the manufacture, processing, preservation or marketing of products or substances intended for human consumption,

    other than—

    (i) natural mineral waters, within the meaning of the European Union (Natural Mineral Waters, Spring Waters and Other Waters in Bottles or Containers) Regulations 2016 (S.I. No. 282 of 2016),

    (ii) waters which are medicinal products within the meaning of Directive 2001/83/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 November 2001,

    (iii) an exempted supply, or

    (iv) water supplied in bottles or containers;

    An exempted supply means a supply of water which:

    -    constitutes an individual supply of less than 10 cubic metres a day on average or serves fewer than 50 persons, and

    -    is not supplied as part of a commercial or public activity, or

    -    is used exclusively for purposes in respect of which the relevant supervisory authority is satisfied that the quality of the water has no influence, either directly or indirectly, on the health of the consumers concerned.

    The following exemption comes into operation on 13 January 2026 and shall apply on and after that date.

    A food business operator with its own water supply may be exempt, in relation to the water used for the specific purposes of the food business, where—

    (a) the FSAI, or

    (b) an official agency of the FSAI carrying out functions under a service contract pursuant to section 48 of the Food Safety Authority of Ireland Act 1998 (No. 29 of 1998),
    is satisfied that—

    (i) the quality of the water supply cannot affect the safety of the foodstuff in its finished form, and

    (ii) the water supply of the food business complies with relevant obligations, in particular under the procedures on hazard analysis and critical control point principles, where applicable, and remedial actions under relevant legislation on food.

    Maritime vessels that desalinate water, carry passengers and act as water suppliers are subject to lesser requirements (Regulations 4 to 7, 11 to 13 and 17 of S.I. 99 of 2023 and any relevant Schedule).

  • Water quality and potable water

    The Environmental Protection Agency prepares and publishes annual reports on the results of the monitoring programmes carried out.

    Where the water quality does not meet the specified standards, remedial measures are outlined in S.I. No. 99 of 2023 for public and private water supplies.

    In EU food law, where there is a reference to potable water, it is usually defined as water which meets the standards of Directive 98/83/EC which has been repealed by Directive (EU) 2020/2184

    Read our factsheet on Potable Water Quality for Food Businesses.