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Water standards

Many laws govern the water quality for human consumption.

The Italian Presidential Decree No. 236 of 24 May 1988

The Italian Presidential Decree No. 236 of 24 May 1988, implementing European Directive 80/778 concerning the quality of water for human consumption
The Decree is the first example of implementation of a European Directive by an Italian government and it covers the quality of water intended for human consumption, defining the maximum admissible concentration (MAC) and the guide level (GL) for the various parameters (chemical and microbiological compositions) indicated in the law, introducing also the exception criteria. It establishes protection areas of the water resources, distinguishing among absolute protection, buffer zones and protection zones. The buffer zones are defined according to the water resources to be protected. They must in any case have a radiating extension of no less than 200 m (656 ft) from the capture point. This extension may be reduced in relation to the local vulnerability and risk for the resource.

he Italian Law No. 36 of 5 January 1994

The Italian Law No. 36 of 5 January 1994 (the so-called Galli Law), relative to provisions on water resources
The Galli Law establishes that:

  • all surface and underground water is public
  • human consumption has priority over other uses
  • water can be used for other uses if there

is enough and on the condition that it does not affect the quality of water destined for human consumption. This framework law has initiated a profound process of modernisation and reorganisation of the water supply industry in Italy, introducing the concept of Integrated Water Management provided by the set of public services including collection, purification and distribution of water for household use, plus the sewage and wastewater treatment systems with a single provider for the entire cycle. For this purpose the law established territorial subdivisions defined by the Regions (the so-called Ambiti Territoriali Ottimali, ATO), and the the authority responsible for the territorial subdivision (Autorità di Ambito Territoriale, AATO), with the tasks of identifying providers for the Integrated Water Service, organizing the Integrated Water Service based on efficiency and business criteria; supervising the provider’s business activity; set the tariffs for water services with a single tariff for each ATO, which includes drinking water supply, sewage and wastewater treatment service to ensure full coverage of the investment and operating costs. The law also establishes the obligations for Integrated Water Service providers to set up suitable field control service and a test laboratory for drinking water quality testing at inlets, at the intake and in distribution pipelines, purification plants and in wastewater treatment plants.

The Italian Legislative Decree No. 152 of 11 May 1999

The Italian Legislative Decree No. 152 of 11 May 1999 concerning provisions on the protection of waters from pollution and adoption of the European directive concerning the treatment of urban wastewater and (91/271/EEC) and the European directive concerning the protection of waters against pollution caused by nitrates from agricultural sources (91/676/EEC)
The Decree and its amendments has the objective to protect all (surface, marine and underground) waters to prevent and reduce pollution and restore polluted water bodies, improve their condition and pursue sustainable and long-lasting use of water resources. The Decree sets the evaluation criteria for the water bodies in table form from the quantity, quality and environmental point of views, identifying times and methods to achieve the quality goals and specific end use of the water bodies. The technical annexes are fundamental in applying the provisions of this law. The legal limits for single parameters was replaced by the integration of the chemical, microbiological and biological results for evaluation and assessment of the environmental quality of the water body.

The Italian Legislative Decree No. 31 of 2 February 2001

The Italian Legislative Decree No. 31 of 2 February 2001, implementing European directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption
The Decree, replacing and partly amending the Presidential Decree 236/88, eliminates the concept of guide levels (GL) and maximum admissible concentrations (MAC), and introduces quality and health parameters. It also establishes new microbiological and chemical parameters. The new legal limits are below the ones set by the Presidential Decree 236/88, resulting in improved water quality.

The Italian Legislative Decree No. 152 of April 2006

The Italian Legislative Decree No. 152 of April 2006 concerning environmental laws
The Decree governs the procedures for Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA), Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Integrated Pollution Prevention and Control (IPPC); it sets the standards for soil protection, battle against desertification, water protection against pollution and management of the water resources; it regulates waste management and reclamation of contaminated sites, air protection and reduction of air emissions as well as compensated protection against environmental damage. Its primary goal is to promote the quality level of human life through safeguarding and improving the conditions of the environment and by responsible and rational use of natural resources.