Drink tap water or bottled water in Italy?
Italy has safe drinking water except for water near the outskirts of Lazio that failed the EU Drinking Water Directive (Directive 98/83/EC). Over 100,000 water analyses are performed by the various providers across Italy (like ACEA or Acquedotto del Fiora SpA) to ensure safe sodium, chlorides, and nitrite level for drinking.
You can just drink water safely as the EU had been pushing the entire EU to provide safe drinking water for all to reduce energy use and protect the environment due to plastic bottles for water bottles.
EU Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for growth, jobs, investment, and competitiveness said:
"With this proposal we facilitate the transition to a circular economy, helping Member States manage drinking water in a resource-efficient manner. It implies reduction of energy use and unnecessary water loss. Thanks to increased transparency it will also empower consumers and push them towards more sustainable choices, for example using tap water."
Italy failed to meet the requirement for Lazio and the EU sent a notice in 2014 followed by 2019 because of the high level of arsenic which can affect children's health, and also a high level of fluoride.
The Commission is referring Italy to the Court of Justice as in some areas of Lazio Region, Viterbo County, levels of arsenic and fluoride in drinking water have since long exceeded the parametric values established in the Drinking Water Directive. This exceedance can harm human health, in particular the health of children. Six areas continue to exceed safe levels of arsenic in drinking water: Bagnoregio, Civitella d'Agliano, Fabrica di Roma, Farnese, Ronciglione, and Tuscania. The areas of Bagnoregio and Fabrica di Roma have also exceeded safe levels of fluoride.
The Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the Italian authorities in 2014, followed by a reasoned opinion in January 2019. The reasoned opinion concerned 16 water supply zones in Lazio region, Viterbo County. Since the reasoned opinion, full compliance with the Directive has been achieved by only 10 of these zones.
The purpose of the water directive is to ensure clean water is readily available.
The European Commission has decided today to refer Italy to the Court of Justice for failure to comply with the requirements of the Drinking Water Directive (Directive 98/83/EC). The Directive requires Member States to ensure that water intended for human consumption is wholesome and clean. It requires that drinking water is free from micro-organisms and parasites, and from substances which could pose a potential danger to human health.
The Directive was revised in 2020 to further require testing on emerging chemicals like legionella and chlorate, and EU nations had to comply by 2022.
Meanwhile, a revision of the Drinking Water Directive was adopted by the co-legislators in December 2020. After the entry into force of the revised Directive, Member States have two years to comply with it.
Chlorate can inhibit iodine intake for infants and toddlers. Chlorate came from the chlorine that reacted to chemicals in the water and was not filtered away. A chlorine taste does not mean there is chlorate as they are different.
A specific European Food Safety Authority opinion found that chlorate concentrations of 0.7 mg/kg in drinking water (the value proposed by the WHO), could lead to infants and toddlers being overexposed to chlorate. Further, the Agency found that chlorate can inhibit iodine uptake, although more human health data are needed on iodine uptake inhibition by chlorate
Due to these strict requirements from the EU, many Italians are slowly drinking safe tap water compared to the historical contaminated water found widely in Italy. Most Italian families still drink from bottles of water, given these bottled water companies spent a lot in marketing to convince people about their fresh water.
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Based on ACEA, 6.1 million citizens were supplied with drinking water by Acea over an approximately 34,100 km of drinking-water network. 769,888 analytical tests on drinking water.
The 2019 ACEA report shared the chemicals tested including chloride, sulfate, and nitrides.
Here are the various yearly reports from ACEA on water safety:
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Acquedotto del Fiora SpA carried out, in the 55 municipalities managing, monitoring, and controlled activities on water quality in all phases of the integrated water service, ie aqueduct, sewerage, and purification. The activity includes controls aimed at verifying the requisites envisaged by the sector regulations, but also “managerial” controls that make it possible to verify the effectiveness of the actions undertaken. The results of the checks, crossed with the management costs, allow for indications of the level of efficiency of the company's work.
The controls, far superior to those required by law, follow a specific sampling plan which is updated at the beginning of each year and which takes into account, by frequency and parameters, the level of risk related to qualitative and quantitative aspects; the controls increase with the extent and with the lowering of the quality level of the sources of supply and therefore with the complexity of the treatment processes.