Implementation and evaluation of the water safety plan approach for buildings
The World Health Organization (WHO) promotes water safety plans (WSPs) – a risk-based management approach – for premise plumbing systems in buildings to prevent deterioration of drinking-water quality. Experience with the implementation of WSPs in buildings were gathered within a pilot project in Germany. The project included an evaluation of the feasibility and advantages of WSPs by all stakeholders who share responsibility in drinking-water safety. While the feasibility of the concept was demonstrated for all buildings, benefits reported by building operators varied. The more technical standards were complied with before implementing WSP, the less pronounced were the resulting improvements. In most cases, WSPs yielded an increased system knowledge and awareness for drinking-water quality issues. WSPs also led to improved operation of the premise plumbing system and provided benefits for surveillance authorities. A survey among the European Network of Drinking-Water Regulators on the existing legal framework regarding drinking-water safety in buildings exhibited that countries are aware of the need to manage risks in buildings’ installations, but experience with WSP is rare. Based on the successful implementation and the positive effects of WSPs on drinking-water quality, we recommend the establishment of legal frameworks that require WSPs for priority buildings whilst accounting for differing conditions in buildings and countries.