Water safety plans for human consumption: a new approach to cope with new environmental and climate challenges


  • Luca Lucentini Reparto qualità dell’acqua e salute. Istituto Superiore di Sanità
  • Gerardo Califano Direzione Generale Prevenzione Sanitaria, Ministero della Salute
  • Francesca Russo Direzione Prevenzione e Sicurezza Alimentare e Veterinaria, Venezia
  • Marina Vazzoler Direzione Prevenzione e Sicurezza Alimentare e Veterinaria, Venezia
  • Diego Macchiella Viveracqua S.c.a.r.l.
  • Francesco Berton Viveracqua S.c.a.r.l.
  • Valentina Fuscoletti Reparto qualità dell’acqua e salute. Istituto Superiore di Sanità
  • Mario Cerroni Reparto qualità dell’acqua e salute. Istituto Superiore di Sanità




water safety plans, human consumption water


The emergencies related to water for human consumption in some areas of our country are the result of complex phenomena exogenous to the water sector that hesitate in the increase of temperatures, in the persistence of droughts and in the recurrence of extraordinarily intense meteoric events. The ongoing climate change is exacerbating historical criticalities, especially in vulnerable aquifers where they impact local or extensive pollution phenomena and anthropogenic pressures of past years, and water systems characterized by obsolete infrastructures and networks, and inadequate investments.
To tackle these critical issues, the Ministry of Health has implemented, with the support of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità, a decisive renewal in the cultural approach, even before that of water and health policies and legislation. Anticipating the mandatory introduction of the risk analysis approach for water management systems contained in the recent proposal to review the directive on the quality of water intended for human consumption (Directive 98/83/EC) elaborated in EC, Italy has made mandatory the adoption of "water safety plans" (WSP) since last year, by supporting the implementation of the plans with a national training program and by establishing a approval system, currently under definition. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), WSP tool is the most advanced strategy to prevent and manage any contamination at the level of the entire water-drinking supply chain to promote environmental health.
The application experience of WSP in many Italian drinking water supply systems is largely confirming the effectiveness of this model to guarantee over time the quality of the water distributed, even in the management of emergencies and post-emergencies in specific circumstances of pollution of the waters due to previous releases and continued over time in industrial sites, as in the case of contamination by perfluoroalkyl compounds in a large area of the Veneto Region.


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Direttiva 98/83/CE del Consiglio del 3 novembre 1998, concernente la qualità delle acque destinate al consumo umano. G.U. L 330, 05/12/1998.

Lucentini, L., Achene, L., Fuscoletti, V., Nigro Di Gregorio, F., Pettine, P., 2014. Rapporto ISTISAN 14/21-Linee guida per la valutazione e gestione del rischio nella filiera delle acque destinate al consumo umano secondo il modello dei Water Safety Plans. Istituto Superiore di Sanità , Roma.

Proposta di Direttiva del Parlamento Europeo e del Consiglio concernente la qualità delle acque destinate al consumo umano (rifusione). COM(2017) 753 final 2017/0332(COD) , 01/02/2018.

World Health Organization (WHO), 2011. Guidelines for drinking-water quality. 4 th ed. WHO, Geneva. WHO and UNCCC, 2017. Climate and health country profile -Italy. apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/260380/1/WHO-FWC-PHE-EPE-15.52-eng.pdf?ua=1