Regulatory framework for drinking water, wastewater discharge and reuse
The following figure depicts the main government bodies and organisations responsible for drinking water, wastewater and reuse regulation in England, Wales and Scotland.
Drinking water quality regulations
The legal requirements for drinking water quality standards are consistent throughout the UK and are virtually the same as those stated in the EU Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC (DWD) (see section 13.2.1 in the Overview of EU regulation chapter).
Municipal and industrial wastewater quality regulations
The quality and maintenance of fresh, marine, surface and underground waters throughout the UK is the responsibility of The Environment Agency (EA) in England and Wales and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) in Scotland, who regulate the treatment and discharge of municipal and industrial wastewater through permitting and monitoring systems. Wastewater standards for the UK are detailed in the Water Resources Act 1991 c.57 and the Water Industry Act 1991 c.58 which implement EU directives.
Water reuse regulations
Currently there are no mandated government regulations concerning water reuse in the UK on either a municipal or industrial level. However, changes to water management, in order to conserve the public water supply, have been widely encouraged in policy briefs such as DEFRA’s Future Water , which recognises the many potential opportunities for water reuse. Particularly, in regards to the construction industry, integrating water/greywater conservation and reuse into the design of new buildings can provide an opportunity for differentiation and innovation within the market.
Water in industry: Food and drink
The UK’s main industrial strength is commanded by the services sector, which accounts for around 70-75% of the UK GDP. In addition to services, the UK runs a highly efficient, high quality manufacturing and industrial market which accounts for approximately 25% of UK GDP.
Future regulatory scenario and conclusions
Most UK water regulation stems from EU directives so, barring major changes to any of the relevant EU directives in the near future, UK regulations concerning water will probably remain much as they are today for the foreseeable future. If the EU does publish a revised sludge directive, this will probably result in the UK publishing equivalent regulations, possibly legislating much of the guidance given in the Code of Practice for Agricultural Use of Sewage Sludge and The Safe Sludge Matrix.
List of laws, standards and policies