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Executive Summary (M Sc Wrm 2008)


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Executive Summary (M Sc Wrm 2008)

  1. 1. The Potential for Adapting the UK Water Quality Regulatory Model for ASEAN Cities - Further development of a unique Singapore model and a study of technical example of metaldehyde-containing pesticides in UK as an illustration of regulatory issues in the UK MSc Dissertation 2008 by Christopher Chua Executive Summary Safe Drinking Water is one of the important factors for the protection of public health and for supporting national developments for ASEAN cities. There are wide ranges of technologies available to provide safe drinking water, and funding available from international organisations like the Asian Development Banks (ADB) and World Bank (WB) for the implementation of water infrastructure projects for these developing countries to meet the growing needs of sustainable clean water supply in lieu of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG). There are also a growing number of water professionals and technologists in the region. However, the developments in regulatory framework and institutional arrangements needed are not growing in the same pace as the focus on technology and treatment capabilities. Technology and regulatory frameworks focuses on the micro- and macro- issues respectively for sustainable water supplies for a population’s basic needs and national developments. This dissertation focuses on water quality regulatory models and considers the possibility of adapting the UK water quality regulatory model for use in assisting ASEAN countries to develop high levels of drinking water quality in their cities and surrounding rural communities. The UK model could also potentially be modified by Singapore in an innovative manner to further develop a unique water quality regulatory model. The United Nations recognises that safe drinking water and adequate sanitation are crucial for reducing poverty, sustainable developments and for achieving all the Millennium Development Goals (UN news centre, 24 Oct 2007). The UN targets to halve the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation by 2015. Prüss-Üstün A. et al (2008) concluded that the frequency of diarrhoeal diseases could be reduced by 25% with improvement in water supply and by 31% if there is improvement in water quality. The WHO Guidelines for drinking water quality defines safe drinking water as water of a certain microbiological, chemical, physical and radiological quality that does not represent any significant health risk over a lifetime of consumption. The WHO has, since 1994, provided guidelines, and not international standards, on drinking water quality and adopted a risk-based approach for setting national or regional standards and regulations. The WHO guidelines specifies concentration limits for 2 microbiological quality parameters, 95 chemical quality parameters, 2 radiological screening parameters and 5 acceptability quality parameters. Drinking water regulations is required to ensure that the roles of each stakeholder are clearly defined in the provision of safe potable water with effective control for consumers. Regulations is meant to help water utilities (both public and Christopher Chua -1- MSc in Water Regulation & Management Dissertation 2008 Executive Summary
  2. 2. private) in ensuring they are providing the best possible water services to the public in the local context. An understanding of the current international WHO guidelines, EU and UK drinking water regulations will allow the development of a suitable regulatory model that could be adapted by Singapore and ASEAN cities. The internationally recognised WHO Guidelines for drinking water quality is commonly used as a reference source for drinking water standards for most countries in the world, although the WHO recommends that the countries adopt a preventive approach and cautions that water quality standards should be based on the local context. The framework for safe drinking water comprises of the health based targets, water safety plans and surveillance is carried out using a risk based approach to determine the health related targets to achieve, a multi-barrier critical assessment and remediation of the entire water supply system from catchment to tap and active surveillance to ensure that the systems are in place. Surveillance is either carried out by direct assessment by the regulators or by 3rd party verification of water supplier’s compliance of regulatory requirements in assessment, testing and remedial actions. Institutional arrangements are important factors in successfully adapting the framework recommended in WHO Guidelines for drinking water quality for the provision of safe drinking water, especially with regards to amending the legislation in requiring water utilities to implement Drinking Water Safety Plans (WSPs). There is a need to balance the preventive approach in the WHO guidelines with regular and sufficiently frequent monitoring programmes. There is no assurance of water quality unless there is evidence through proper sampling and analysis of water samples; The European Union (EU), comprising of 27 member states, has distinct, separate legislative, executive and judicial organs of government, the power of which is transferred from the member states to the community by virtue of treaties and that the community law overrides the national laws. The EU council adopted the Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC (DWD) on 3 November 1998 for all member states to transpose into national law to ensure that potable water for consumption is clean and wholesome for the protection of public health in the EU. The DWD requires that water intended for human consumption is wholesome and clean if it contains no micro-organism, parasites and concentration of substances that endanger human health; and meet the minimum parametric values and requirements set out in the DWD. There are 2 microbiological parameters (5 for water for sale in bottles or containers); 26 chemical parameters and 20 indicator parameters. In the UK, England & Wales has a very unique situation, as it has a self- regulated fully privatized water industry comprising of many of its water companies being subsidiaries of international enterprises; and many stakeholders, including 3 regulators (OfWat, EA, DWI) looking at economic, environmental and water quality aspects respectively. Drinking water quality standards specified in the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2000 are based on the 1998 EC Drinking Water Directives. The regulations also specify other water quality related information like sampling frequency, compliance location, analysis specification and investigations Christopher Chua -2- MSc in Water Regulation & Management Dissertation 2008 Executive Summary
  3. 3. and actions required in the event of failed parameters. A diagram illustrating the current UK regulatory model is shown in Figure 1. WHO (International Advisory) Regional European Union (Regional) UK Govt Ministries (DEFRA) UK Government Agencies (Regulatory) (England & Wales) National Local Water UK & Other Authorities Associations Private Water Public Water Suppliers Consumer Council for water Consumer Figure 1. UK Water Quality Regulatory model The Chief Inspector of Drinking Water is specifically designated by legislation to act as an independent regulator to ensure that drinking water supplied to customers in England and Wales is safe and in compliance with the water quality regulations. The Drinking Water Inspectorate for England & Wales (DWI) carry out an independent check on all water quality data provided by water companies, carries out technical assessments on whether the investigation and actions by water companies are appropriate when there is a breach in standard and carries out audits for prioritised high risk water supply systems. May A. (2006) conclude that “privatisation has achieved significant benefits in drinking water quality, but only with strong regulation and a regulator specifically dedicated to drinking water quality.” This would also apply to any water supplier, whether private or public. The reason is that the regulations should be based on evidence and facts to show where the companies are meeting the regulatory requirements, and where the improvements have to be made in the water systems. The advantage of the UK water quality model is that it allows the government to focus on being regulators, rather than service providers. With a strong independent water quality regulator, it has proven effective in ensuring that safe drinking water is provided through regulatory compliance. It is also cost-effective, as it allows water utilities to be self-regulated and for the provision of water quality information to the DWI for analysis. Christopher Chua -3- MSc in Water Regulation & Management Dissertation 2008 Executive Summary
  4. 4. A study of a technical example for metaldehyde-containing pesticides was carried out to illustrate the role of the UK regulatory model. Metaldehyde, a common active component for molluscicide, is one of the emerging contaminants that UK water utilities are required to deal with in their treatment systems. Water utilities are finding that their current treatment processes (commonly comprising of GAC and ozone) do not seem to be effective in removing metaldehyde from drinking water and thus there might be a risk that this might contravene the pesticide standards. There is also no accredited approach for analysing metaldehyde in water. Analytical results from the case studies raised many questions as the data does not seem to make sense, especially since some of the final treated water samples have higher metaldehyde concentration than that found in the raw water sample. Sampling and analytical approaches need to be developed to ensure the timely and accurate detection of metaldehyde in water. These studies indicate that the UK water quality regulatory structure, the presence of the DWI and the sharing of information between water companies and DWI have ensured that water companies are working to monitor and resolve the metaldehyde issue and other contraventions in a consistent manner. The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) comprises of 10 Southeast Asian nations and operates primarily on the principles of recognition of equality and sovereignty of each member country; non-interference in the internal affairs of other member countries; peaceful resolution of differences and intra- national issues; and effective co-operation among member countries. In Southeast Asia, the UN (2008) reported that the percentage of population with access to clean water in urban areas have decreased from about 94% in 1990 to 89% in 2005, while the percentage in rural areas has increased from about 68% in 1990 to about 76% in 2004. The decrease in percentage for the urban areas appears to be due to the fact that the service delivery systems are unable to keep pace with the rapidly growing population. The Asian Development Bank (ADB) (2005) recommended the need for establishing a regulatory framework for water services (both public and private supplies) in Asian countries to ensure that that all stakeholders’ interests are catered for and that water services are efficient and cost-effective. Based on ADB’s experience in Asia, there is a need for competent, credible and independent regulators within a transparent regulatory framework throughout Asia and that subsidies are the purview of the government and not the water services providers. There is a critical need to ensure that there are sufficient and adequate safe drinking water supplies for the rapidly growing ASEAN cities. It is important for ASEAN to develop ASEAN water quality standards and ensure that its member countries review and enact the relevant water policies and legislation. Singapore’s successful experience in water resources management highlights the need for any country to put in place a long term sustainable water resources management strategy. It also clearly shows that the Singapore government sees water as an important strategic resource for survival, public health and economic development. However, Singapore has just started on developing a regulatory framework for drinking water quality in view of its future need. A diagram to illustrate the current Singapore model is shown in Figure 2. Christopher Chua -4- MSc in Water Regulation & Management Dissertation 2008 Executive Summary
  5. 5. Ministry of Environment & Water Resources Water Services division Responsible for overall strategic policy on all water issues (water master plan, policies and planning considerations, pricing, legislations) Formulates policies for water industry Regulates PUB on efficiency & performance Determines the tariff structure for public drinking water supplies Other authorities National Environment Agency (NEA) PUB Environment and Water quality regulator Manages the entire water cycle Responsible for approval of Water safety Responsible for integrated urban water plans and sampling programme resources management Regulations sets the WHO guidelines Sole public drinking water supplier (except (1 microbiological, 3 physical, 3 for small private supplies for internal radiological, 94 chemical consumption) parameters) for quality Regulates operational requirements for parameters and sampling water supply system (including plumbers) frequency Operational training for utilities Responsible for regulating private water supplies PUB-owned drainage Private owned NEWater Private water supplies for internal systems, reservoirs, factories and desalination consumption (campsites on offshore water treatment plant owned & operated islands) – NEA is responsible for water works, NEWater under the PPP quality factories, arrangement Water Supply system to household, public buildings, private buildings and industries Figure 2. Singapore Water Quality Regulatory model The Ministry of Environment & Water Resources (MEWR) appointed the Director-General of Public Health to discharge the duties as specified in the Environment Public Health Act 1987 under section 3 of the said Act (Singapore Government, 1987). The act allows the National Environment Agency (NEA) to introduce the new Environmental Public Health (Quality of piped drinking water) Regulations 2008 as well as the Code of Practice for piped drinking water sampling and safety plans recently in 2008. However, the specified water quality parameters include 1 microbiological parameter, 95 chemical parameters, 3 radiological parameters and 3 physical-chemical parameters, which are essentially extracted Christopher Chua -5- MSc in Water Regulation & Management Dissertation 2008 Executive Summary
  6. 6. entirely from the WHO Guidelines for Safe Drinking Water (Singapore Government, 2008) (NEA, 2008). With the introduction of the new Environmental Public Health (Quality of piped drinking water) regulations 2008, NEA has formed a new Drinking Water Unit (DWU) to be responsible for regulating water quality for both public and private water suppliers, while PUB, Singapore’s national water agency, is likely to be still responsible for the technical and operational requirements of water supply (PUB, 2008). Singapore has successfully implemented sustainable water resources management and has been focusing on technology development. The government has just started on developing a regulatory framework for drinking water quality. The introduction of the new regulations in Singapore and the DWU are positive steps in aligning with the WHO Guidelines on drinking water quality and in ensuring the sustainable development of safe drinking water in the country As the DWU is a relatively new regulatory unit, it would be useful to collaborate with the DWI to develop its competencies in a unique Singaporean model. To discharge its duties, some of the possible areas in which the DWU can develop to strengthen its competencies and knowledge are to: o Set up water quality database for water quality analysis; o Develop frameworks for technical audits and incident investigations; o Refine the Singapore water quality standards and tighten the water quality legislation; o Focus research on emerging water quality issues; and o Provide continual training for staff in water treatment, water quality and public health issues required in carrying out their regulatory functions. Arising from the research, a flexible basic water quality regulatory model for ASEAN cities, shown in Figure 3, is proposed to be adapted for each ASEAN city to ensure adequacy and sufficiency of an uninterrupted supply of safe drinking water in ASEAN cities. The model is split into International, Regional/sub-regional, and National arrangements to identify the roles of different stakeholders. The model is developed by adopting the principles found in the effective UK regulatory model and in Singapore’s success in integrated water resources management. The dissertation focuses only on water quality regulatory models and has only covered the tip of the iceberg of the challenges faced in the provision of a sustainable, uninterrupted and safe drinking water supply to the ASEAN cities. Some potential areas of further studies are the: o Further development and implementation of the ASEAN water quality regulatory model, taking into consideration the local conditions within the ASEAN member countries; o Development of a training framework for competent regulators; o Review and tighten the Singapore water quality legislations; Christopher Chua -6- MSc in Water Regulation & Management Dissertation 2008 Executive Summary
  7. 7. o Identification of the institutional arrangements required for the implementation of the WHO framework for safe drinking water; and o Development of strategies for the effective treatment and control of metaldehyde in drinking water. Christopher Chua -7- MSc in Water Regulation & Management Dissertation 2008 Executive Summary
  8. 8. International Regional & United Nations WHO (International Co-ordinator & Support) (International Health Authority & Advisor) ASEAN Sub-regional (Regional co-ordinator and advisor) ASEAN Network of Water Regulators National Environment Ministry Accredited Regulatory Agencies Ψ Laboratories Water Quality Regulator Public Water Agency Public Statutory Private Water Water Supply Supplier Public owned companies drainage and National reservoir system Public Owned Private Water Public Statutory works works Supplier works Public Water Agency Public Statutory Supplier Distribution Network ж distribution network ж ж Consumer Ж – Consumer Representative group Ψ – Regulatory agencies include the environment agencies, land use/town planning authorities, accreditation authority, and local authorities/councils Figure 3. Proposed ASEAN Water Quality Regulatory model Christopher Chua -8- MSc in Water Regulation & Management Dissertation 2008 Executive Summary