TESTATA Water Conformity Law

Water conformity according to law

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In this report:

Water Conformity Law

In addition to analytical results expressed as average concentrations, the following chart shows the percentage of analyses performed by Hera and by local health authorities in 2018 that produced results that are compliant with the limits set by Italian Legislative Decree 31/2001.

This percentage differs from the performance indicators defined by Arera Resolution 917/2017 for the regulation of the technical quality of water services. The "rate of parameters from non-compliant internal checks" (indicator M3c required by resolution 917/2017) is calculated on all the samples and all the parameters sampled by the internal checks required by art. 7 of Legislative Decree 31/2001 and therefore concerns all the parameters in tables A, B, and C of Legislative Decree 31/2001. The "percentage of analyses compliant with limits" indicator presented in this report, on the other hand, considers the 22 parameters considered most significant for assessing the quality of the water distributed by Hera.

 

 

With regard to the parameters listed in the above chart, in 2018 Hera and local health authorities carried out 228,740 analyses along the distribution network in the regional environmental protection agency labs: overall, 99.9% of analyses were within regulations (as per Italian Legislative Decree 31/2001). The cases of non-compliance mainly concerned aluminium (in Bologna) and iron (in Forlì-Cesena) that the legislation classifies as indicator parameters.

WATER QUALITY: % OF ANALYSES COMPLIANT WITH THE LAW (2018). ANALYSES PERFORMED BY THE GROUP AND PUBLIC CONTROL BODIES1

  PROV. BOLOGNA PROV. FERRARA PROV. FORLÌ-CESENA PROV. MODENA PROV. PADUA PROV. PESARO-URBINO PROV. RAVENNA PROV. RIMINI PROV. TRIESTE
Aluminium 96.6% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 99.9% 99.1% 99.6% 100.0%
Ammonium 99.9% 100.0% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Pesticides 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Total pesticides 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Arsenic 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Cadmium 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Chlorite 99.9% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 99.7% 99.8% 99.9% 100.0%
Chloride 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Hydrogen ion concentration 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Conductivity 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Escherichia coli 99.6% 100.0% 99.7% 99.8% 99.8% 99.7% 100.0% 99.7% 100.0%
Iron 99.0% 99.7% 98.8% 99.1% 99.4% 99.2% 100.0% 98.8% 100.0%
Fluoride 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Manganese 99.8% 100.0% 99.8% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 99.6% 100.0%
Nitrate 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Nitrite 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0%
Lead 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Dry residue at 180° 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Sodium 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Sulphate 100.0% 100.0% 99.7% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Tetrachloroethylene + Trichloroethylene 99.7% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Trihalomethanes-Total 100.0% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%
TOTAL 99.8% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0% 99.9% 99.9% 100.0% 99.9% 100.0%

Note: Italian Legislative Decree 31/2001 classifies aluminium, ammonium, hydrogen ion concentration (pH), chloride, iron, manganese, and sodium as "indicator parameters". For dry residue at 180°C, Legislative Decree 31/2001 specifies recommended values (see p. 24)
1 Data relative to Emilia Romagna was collected by Arpae for USLs, while readings for Padua and Trieste were taken by Padua ULSS and Trieste ASUI respectively. ASUR Marche provided the readings for Pesaro Urbino.

 

The decree defines different non-conformity action plans according to the specific parameter

The same Legislative Decree 31/2001 and regional regulation 9/2004 identify non-conformity action plans that differ depending on whether the parameters alter only the organoleptic qualities of the water, as with iron and manganese (classified by Italian legislative Decree 31/2001 as indicator parameters) or whether they alter water potability, as with Escherichia coli or chemical parameters such a lead or trihalomethanes. If they exceed limits, the regional environmental protection agencies immediately inform the competent authorities (USLs) and they, in turn, take immediate corrective action.

Whenever results fail to comply with regulations, Hera immediately takes action to restore normal supply conditions by adjusting the treatment systems (especially as regards disinfection stations), flushing the network to remove any sediment in the pipes and/or replacing sections of pipe. In more critical cases, Hera makes drinking water available for alimentary use via tankers or the distribution of water packs until the problem has been solved.

During 2018 no special dispensations or exceptions were issued for any parameter subject to regulations

During 2018, no exceptions were granted for compliance with the limits set by Legislative Decree no. 31/2001and 35 mayor’s non-potability ordinances have been issued: 3 in Emilia-Romagna and the rest in the Marche region. Most orders issued in Marche were the result of problems with small/very small mains pipe disinfection plants where low flow rates and the location of systems in isolated areas generally make control and adjustment more difficult. A total of 3,044 users were involved (estimated based on users in affected areas). In all cases normal conditions were restored quickly (average event duration 4 days) without any evidence of impact on public health and with only limited inconvenience. Such orders affected less than 0.001% of users served.

 

ASBESTOS CONTROLS

The use of asbestos, employed extensively in construction and other industries until the end of the 1980s, was banned in 1992. It was officially acknowledged that inhaling asbestos fibres results in serious respiratory illness. However, there is no hard evidence that ingesting such fibres is harmful. In May 2015 the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Higher Institute of Health) confirmed that asbestos fibres in water do not pose a public health risk and at present, there is no need to set a parameter value for asbestos in water intended for human consumption any different than that set by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA study, in fact, takes into consideration the possibility that asbestos in water might contribute to an increase in the background level of airborne fibres and therefore heighten the risk of inhalation. The recommendation is that a litre of water should contain no more than 7 million fibres longer than 10 µm (source: EPA, Environmental Protection Agency, Technical factsheet on asbestos). Recent international studies on populations exposed via drinking water have provided insufficient evidence to link gastrointestinal tumours with drinking water consumption (Monograph Iarc, vol. 100 C, 2012).

However, this topic remains a source of considerable worry. Hera has responded by running constant checks on the condition of such piping and applying a control plan that focuses on the detection of asbestos fibres in water. Since 2003 Hera has drawn up and applied an annual asbestos control plan. This provides detailed information on the most representative sampling points, sampling frequency and the relative analytical parameters.

In addition to searching for asbestos fibres that are 10 µm (ten-thousandths of a millimetre) long or longer, analytical parameters also assess the aggressiveness of the water (pH, alkalinity, calcium, chlorides, and sulphates). This approach was adopted because the release of fibres from the cement mass in asbestos cement piping depends on the subtraction of calcium ions and the high aggressiveness of the water.

In 2018, 229 samples were taken to assess the risk of asbestos fibre release by asbestos-cement piping. Test results showed an absence of fibres longer than 10 µm in 96% of the samples, with an average number of fibres/litre 911 times lower than the limit set by the US EPA. In the nine samples where fibres longer than 10 µm were found, the number of fibres/litre was between 678 and 7,684 (the latter 99% lower than the amount specified by the US EPA).

For each of the 208 samples, the “aggressiveness” parameter was also assessed. Values for this parameter (in 180 cases ≥12, in 28 cases <12) confirmed that the water distributed by Hera has, generally, a tendency to encrust the cement structure rather than act aggressively on it (average aggressiveness rating 12.2). It does not, therefore, contribute to the release of asbestos fibres.

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