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Applicable Legislation

Water for Human Consumption

Decree-Law No. 306/2007, from August 27th, on the quality of water for human consumption establishes the authority and powers of the public supply system managing entities, also designated as 'managing entities', particularly concerning:
  1. The verification of water quality/water quality control standards (Article 10)
  2. The elaboration, submission for approval by the Proper Authority (ERSAR) and implementation/execution of the sampling and analysis programme to be developed considering the demonstration/verification of compliance of the distributed water with those standards (Article 14) as established in Annex 3 of the same Decree-Law
  3. Water quality parameters to be researched and related frequency (Article 11, 12, and Annex 2)
  4. Information circuits for the proper entities and consumers on water quality data, communications, and treatment of non-compliance with parametric values, as well as communication of results of corrective measures, etc. (Article 17 and 18)
  5. Treatment of water for human consumption (Article 9) where it is established that distributed water should be subjected to a disinfection process
  6. Use of materials and products in contact with water (Article 21)
  7. Assurance of continuous water quality improvement through operational control programmes for all distribution systems (Article 22)
  8. Testing laboratory suitability criteria (chapter 5)
The Quality of Water for Human Consumption is regulated by Entidade Reguladora dos Serviços de Águas e Resíduos (ERSAR), which holds the status of proper authority for the quality of water for human consumption.

This legal document implements Directive No. 98/83/EC of the Council, from November 3rd.

Fresh Surface Water and Groundwater for the production of Water for Human Consumption

Decree-Law No. 236/98, from August 1st, establishes the levels of quality of fresh surface water and groundwater for the production of water for human consumption (chapter 2, section 1 and 2).

This legal document establishes criteria for the minimum sampling and analysis frequency for quality monitoring based on the classification of fresh surface water for the production of water for human consumption (Annex 1 to 5).

According to this document, groundwater with higher or equal quality to Category A1 of fresh surface water is apt to be used as water origin for the production of water for human consumption as long as it is used for the same purpose. The minimum annual sampling and analysis frequency corresponds to category A1 of surface water.

LAW No. 58/2005, December 29th – Water Law

This document establishes a sustainable management framework for surface water – inland, transitional and coastal – and groundwater, and has implemented a group of essential standards in Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and the Council, from October 23rd, 2000, which establishes a community action frame in water policy; Official Journal of the European Union, L230/1, which is taken into consideration in Decree-Law No. 77/2006, from March 30th.

Surface water is included in its application scope (particularly inland, transitional and coastal water) as well as groundwater, which also comprise beds and margins, and adjacent areas, maximum infiltration zones, and protected areas.

The Law (Article 56) establishes that activities with a significant impact on the state of the water may only be exercised with a user permit. It assumes which uses have a significant impact, that is, which require a permit and what type of permit, which may be an authorisation, licence or concession.

Any use of water resources that is not included in Article 58 of the Water Law (common use and fruition) shall imply a licence request from the licensing entity, which will then assess the impact and most suitable permit.

The proper licensing entity in Mainland Portugal for water resources is Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente - Portuguese Environmental Agency, particularly the Regional Hydrographic Administration as established in Article 8 of the Water Law amended by Decree-Law No. 130/2012 from June 22nd.

Other Legal Documents

Other pertinent legal documents for the intake, treatment and distribution, and quality control of water for the production of water for human consumption and quality control of water for human consumption, include:
  • Decree-Law No. 382/99, from September 22nd, which establishes standards and criteria for delimiting protection perimeters for the intake of public groundwater
  • Decree-Law No. 226-A/2007, from May 31st, regarding the licensing regime and use of water resources which may be used as water intake for human consumption
  • Decree-Law No. 92/2010, from July 26th, which establishes the necessary principles and rules to simplify free access and exercise of services and implements Directive No. 2006/123/EC of the European Parliament and the Council, from December 12th
  • Decree-Law No. 103/2010, from September 24th, which implements Directive No. 2008/105/EC of the European Parliament and the Council, from December 16th, regarding environmental quality standards for priority substances and other pollutants within the scope of water policy, in order to ensure a gradual reduction of pollution and achieve a good preservation of surface water
  • Decree-Law No. 83/2011, from June 20th, which establishes technical specifications for chemical analysis and monitoring of the water's condition
  • DIRECTIVE 2013/51/EURATOM OF THE COUNCIL, from October 22nd, 2013, which establishes the requirements for the general public's health protection regarding radioactive substances in the water for human consumption

ERSAR Recommendations

ERSAR - being the Proper Authority regarding the quality of water for human consumption - has made many recommendations to the managing entities of water supply systems and the laboratories carrying out water quality control, which are available on the website of ERSAR. The following are included:
  • IRAR Recommendation No. 02/2005 | Lead Control in Water for Human Consumption
  • ERSAR Recommendation No. 03/2010 | Procedure for Collecting Water Samples for Human Consumption in Supply Systems
  • ERSAR Recommendation No. 02/2011 | Technical specifications for the certification of a water product for human consumption
The Portuguese legal documents herein are available on the website of "Diário da República" »

The community legal documents are available on the EUR-Lex Database »

The ERSAR recommendations are available on the website of ERSAR »

Site | Agência Portuguesa do Ambiente - Portuguese Environmental Agency

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