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DRINKING WATER

Drinking water is water intended for drinking, cooking, food preparation and other domestic purposes, and water used in food production and trade. Other domestic purposes usually mean the use of water for personal hygiene (washing, showering, bathing, brushing teeth) and washing and cleaning items and surfaces through which the introduction of contaminants in or on the body is possible upon use or afterwards.

The quality of drinking water is regulated by the Rules on drinking water, which are aligned with the relevant European Union directive. The quality of drinking water must be continuously monitored. Under Slovenian legislation, monitoring is dual: internal and external. Internal monitoring is provided by the water supply system operator and must be based on the HACCP system, which means that water must be monitored throughout the process, from catchment to use. This process monitoring ensures a constantly high level of drinking water safety, which could not be provided by sampling alone. External monitoring is performed by the state. It is carried out according to the annual programme prepared in advance and approved by the Minister of Health.

The parameters for monitoring drinking water quality are microbiological, chemical and physical. Because they most frequently have acute consequences, most attention is dedicated to microbiological parameters. Chemical substances are usually present in lower concentrations and mostly associated with possible chronic effects. Upon each detection, the significance indicator of the phenomenon and its dynamics must be considered, i.e. whether it is a unique event, a frequent phenomenon, a growing trend etc., in addition to direct threats constituted by any parameter value that is exceeded.

In Slovenia, approximately 1000 water supply systems provide water to over 90% of the population. A large number of small water supply systems which supply water to only a small percentage of the population is characteristic of Slovenia. The quality of drinking water is more stable in larger systems; in smaller systems, physical and microbiological pollution of drinking water is more frequent due to weather and other effects.

Bottled drinking water is practical for travel, in extraordinary situations and in areas where the use of drinking water is restriced or prohibited; otherwise, it is pointless. Bottled water is controlled according to slightly stricter criteria with respect to microbiological parameters, since it may be stored for some time before use, but this does not always mean that it is ‘safer’ or better than tap water. The requirements regarding chemical substances (e.g. pesticides, nitrates, heavy metals) are the same as for water from the water supply network.