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Poland has not implemented the EU directive on drinking water. Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk: this does not affect the testing of water for the presence of legionella bacteria

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Poland is one of the countries that has not implemented the EU directive on the quality of drinking water, which includes, among other things, safety standards regarding Legionella. Member states were obliged to implement these EU rules by January 2023. Minister for European Union Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk argues that non-implementation of the directive “does not affect water testing for the presence of Legionella bacteria.” He confirmed that the first, preliminary stage of infringement proceedings against 20 countries, including Poland, was launched in March.

This is the directive of December 16, 2020 “on the quality of water intended for human consumption”. TVN24 correspondent in Brussels, Maciej Sokołowski, explained that this is an update of the directive on drinking water already in force in the European Union.

What does the directive say?

It contains provisions regarding, among others, legionella, for example risk assessment in internal water supply systems.

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Article 10 of the directive states that “Member States shall ensure that a risk assessment of internal water supply systems is carried out.” The detailed elements of such an analysis were listed, and it was also directly stated that “with respect to bacteria Legionella or lead, Member States may decide that monitoring (…) will focus on priority sites.

Priority facilities include: hospitals, healthcare facilities, care homes, childcare facilities, schools, educational facilities, accommodation facilities, restaurants, bars, sports centers and shopping centers, leisure, recreation and exhibition facilities, prisons and campsites.


The justification for the directive states, among other things, that “a holistic, risk-based approach to water security should be introduced, covering the entire supply chain from supply, through abstraction, treatment, storage and distribution to the point of compliance.”

“This risk-based approach should consist of three elements”, including “an assessment of the potential risks associated with internal water systems, such as those posed by legionella or lead (hereinafter referred to as ‘risk assessment of internal water systems’), with particular emphasis on taking into account priority objects. “These assessments should be reviewed regularly, including in response to threats from extreme weather events associated with climate change, known changes in human activities in the area of ​​water abstraction or incidents related to water supply sources. A risk-based approach should ensure a constant exchange of information between competent authorities and water suppliers,” we read.


Poland among the countries that have not implemented the directive

TVN24’s correspondent in Brussels reported that member states were obliged to implement these EU regulations by January 2023.

In March European Commission reported that most EU countries were not implementing the directive and sent a letter of formal notice to Poland, as well as: BelgiumBulgaria, CzechDenmark, Germany, EstoniaIreland, Greece, Croatia, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Austria, Portugal, Slovenia, Slovakia, Finland and Sweden.

Sokołowski noted that the directive states that “risk assessment in internal water supply systems shall be carried out for the first time by January 12, 2029.” As he reported on TVN24, we cannot say directly that it would affect the situation in Poland at the moment.

Szynkowski vel Sęk: non-implementation of the EU directive does not affect water testing for the presence of legionella bacteria

RMF FM reported on Tuesday that Poland has not implemented the EU directive.

Minister for European Union Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, asked on Wednesday on Radio Plus about the non-implementation of the directive, admitted that this information “is true”, but added “the non-implementation of this broad legal act has no bearing on the regulation of the Ministry of Health in force since 2017, which indicates the criteria for testing samples for the presence of this bacterium.

– Today, regulations are already in force that allow for proper testing of samples – he added.

According to the Polish authorities, Poland is already fulfilling the provisions of the directive in the scope of Legionella cases and did not have to change the regulations, and the Commission’s allegations concern the lack of implementation of the directive in another scope. This is about Regulation of the Minister of Health of December 7, 2017 on the quality of water intended for human consumption, which already states that:
[par 20, p 3, pp 5] as part of ongoing sanitary supervision, they perform tests of the quality of hot water to detect Legionella sp. bacteria, in particular in enterprises of entities providing medical services such as stationary and 24-hour health services; The presence of Legionella “should be tested in hot water samples taken in enterprises of entities providing medical services such as stationary and 24-hour health care services and in collective residence buildings and public buildings where water-air aerosol is generated during their use.”

Minister for the European Union: The European Commission has launched the first, preliminary stage of infringement proceedings

The minister informed that the directive was not implemented by 20 European Union countries due to the very broad scope of this legal act. – These countries are conducting analyses. Poland is among them, he added. He repeated that its failure to implement “does not affect water testing for the presence of legionella bacteria.” – There are also signals from other countries, for example Germany, that higher temperatures caused this bacteria to multiply. These are its characteristics, and this legal framework does not matter here, he said.

Szynkowski vel Sęk said that the first, preliminary stage of infringement proceedings against 20 countries was launched in March. – The European Commission is aware of the complexity of this legal act and the fact that a number of countries have not yet been able to implement this directive and are carrying out their work calmly – he added.

Legionella bacteria infections

The District Sanitary and Epidemiological Station in Rzeszów informed on Wednesday about two more deaths of people infected with Legionella. A total of 16 patients diagnosed with this bacterium have died. According to the Rzeszów sanitary services, the bacteria has been detected in a total of 155 people.

The services received the first report of bacterial infection on Thursday, August 17. At that time, there were 15 hospitalized in hospitals in Rzeszów, in which the presence of the Legionella pneumophila bacteria was confirmed. The health department has launched an epidemiological investigation to detect the source of legionellosis infection.

Read also: GIS guidelines in connection with Legionella infections

More and more legionella infections. How to protect yourself from it?Marzanna Zielińska/Fakty TVN

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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