The Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality, launched at Singapore International Water Week 2011 are aimed at helping governments reduce ill-health and death through drinking contaminated water.

The guidelines outline a Water Safety Planning approach where water suppliers are advised to systematically assess the risks of water contamination in order to address any potential problems.

The focus of the approach is on the prevention of water contamination by applying recommended standards.

WHO coordinator for Water, Sanitation, Hygiene and Health, Robert Bos, said: “If we look at the most recent waterborne disease outbreaks, both in developing and developed countries, it is clear that most of these could have been prevented through the proactive implementation of Water Safety Plans.”

The guidelines include good practice recommendations from household rainwater harvesting and safe storage through to policy advice on bulk water supply and the implications of climate change.

Recommendations in the guidelines also cover minimum procedures for ensuring drinking-water safety, microbial hazards, the effects of climate change on water temperature and rainfall patterns and chemical contaminants.

The guidelines contain hundreds of risk assessments on specific waterborne hazards and have been updated based on the latest scientific evidence. For the first time this also includes specific guidance on emerging contaminants of concern in drinking-water.

The Guidelines are regarded globally as the most authoritative framework on drinking-water quality and often form the basis for national laws and regulations.

The full guidelines can be obtained from the WHO website.

Alison Brown

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