Dr James Jenkins at the University of Hertfordshire calls for a better awareness of policy-making across Europe to ensure better quality drinking water.
In a paper entitled A policy development perspective on drinking water policy, which is published in Water Policy this week, Dr Jenkins, at the University’s School of Life Sciences, argues that the water industry needs to develop a better knowledge of how European water policy is developed and can subsequently impact upon drinking water quality, particularly if progress made in recent decades is to be maintained.
“Although government bodies have good intentions to work towards improving the quality of drinking water by harmonising legislation across Europe, the quality of the water has not improved as quickly as envisaged,” said Dr Jenkins. “The reason is that there are lots of countries trying to agree standards and often there is a lack of understanding about how to implement policy. Ultimately, the outcome of the bargaining and negotiation that takes place at policy development stage has an impact on the quality of drinking water.
“It is of fundamental importance that those in the water industry appreciate how policy has in the past been developed if the considerable lessons learned from past policy experiences are not to be lost.”
Dr Jenkins looked in particular at how policy development affected the development of the Drinking Water Directive (80/778/EEC) in England/Wales and the Republic of Ireland, and how the impacts of the policy development stage of Directive 80/778/EEC could be understood.
He concludes by calling for more effective measures to help newer EU Member States to better understand the implications of legislation before they sign up in an attempt to improve the implementation of EU water policy.
“There tends to be pressure on new Member States to sign up quickly to legislation and the real danger there is that they sign up without questioning the process; I found that this was particularly true in the case of Ireland when it joined,” said Dr Jenkins. “We need to find ways to encourage new Member States and bring them up to speed with legislation if we are to continue to have good quality drinking water across Europe.”
Water Policy paper