European Commission - Press release
Environment: Commission asks Spain to improve drinking water in Alicante
Brussels, 16 June - The Commission is asking Spain to take action to improve the quality of drinking water in Las Filipinas, an area in San Miguel de Salinas, Alicante, Spain. The Commission is concerned that local residents have suffered from water that is not fit for human consumption for more than a decade. Despite petitions to the European Parliament in 2005 and 2006, and the acknowledgement by the Spanish authorities that the local drinking water was not adequate for human consumption, no tangible action has been taken to solve the problem. Spain was sent a letter of formal notice about the matter in 2009, and despite a number replies, no satisfactory action has been implemented. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore sending a reasoned opinion, giving Spain two months to comply. If Spain fails to fulfil its legal obligations, the Commission may refer the case to the EU Court of Justice.
Repeated failures to act
Tests on the local drinking water in Las Filipinas have repeatedly shown numerous exceedances of different types, including for levels of Sodium, Nitrates, Chloride and Conductivity, and there is no dispute over the fact that the water is not currently suitable for human consumption.
The local authorities had informed the Commission that a project involving the construction of new water supply infrastructures was in preparation. The Commission opened legal proceedings with a letter of formal notice in May 2009. After assessing the subsequent replies, the Commission has concluded that breaches to the EU Drinking Water Directive are still ongoing, and that no project has been implemented to remedy the situation. A reasoned opinion has therefore been sent.
Drinking water in Europe is protected by the Drinking Water Directive, which aims to ensure that water intended for human consumption is wholesome and clean. This means that it should be free from any micro-organisms and parasites, and free from any substances that constitute a potential danger to human health. The legislation requires some 48 microbiological and chemical parameters to be monitored and tested regularly. If drinking water is not up to standard, remedial action and restrictions are to be put in place, as a matter of priority.
For current statistics on infringements in general, see:
See also MEMO/11/408
Joe Hennon (+32 2 295 35 93)
Monica Westeren (+32 2 295 06 68)