Helping you understand Welsh law

Water resources and water quality

Water resources may be taken to mean water contained in sources of supply (inland waters or underground strata in which water is or may be contained). The water resources side involves law on the conservation, collection, preparation, use and disposal of water to support human uses and protect environmental quality. It includes the control of water pollution and the protection and enhancement of water quality. It is generally devolved and falls under the responsibility of the Welsh Government.

Drinking Water Inspectorate

The Drinking Water Inspectorate provides independent reassurance that water supplies in England and Wales are safe. Its main job is to check water companies supply safe drinking water that is acceptable to consumers and meets the standards set down in law. The legal standards for Drinking Water come directly from European law. The Welsh Ministers appoint the Chief Inspector for Drinking Water.

Other EU obligations in relation to water

The Water Framework Directive is complemented by other directives regulating the water environment. These include the Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive and the Nitrates Directive, both adopted in 1991, and the Bathing Waters Directive, revised in 2006.

Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive

This directive requires the collection and treatment of urban waste water. The aim is to protect the environment from the adverse effects of urban waste water discharges and discharges from certain industrial sectors.

Nitrates Directive

This Directive requires the identification of waters polluted, or at risk of pollution, by nitrates and the designation of nitrate vulnerable zones, where action programmes are implemented to control pollution. The aim is to protect water quality by preventing nitrates from agricultural sources polluting ground and surface waters and by promoting the use of good farming practices.

Bathing Waters Directive

The revised Bathing Water Directive requires Members States to monitor and assess bathing water quality. In addition, Member States must inform the public about bathing water quality and beach management, through so-called bathing water profiles. The aim of the directive is to protect human health and water quality.

  • Water protection and management (Water Framework Directive)
  • Pricing and long-term management of water
  • Flood management and evaluation
  • Droughts and water scarcity
  • Urban waste water treatment
  • Quality of drinking water
  • Bathing water quality
  • Water suitable for fish-breeding
  • Quality of shellfish waters

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