University of Oulu

Maria J. Gunnarsdottir, Sigurdur M. Gardarsson, Anna Charlotte Schultz, Hans-Jörgen Albrechtsen, Lisbeth Truelstrup Hansen, Kim Steve Gerlach Bergkvist, Pekka M. Rossi, Björn Klöve, Mette Myrmel, Kenneth M. Persson, Magnus Eriksson, Jamie Bartram, Status of risk-based approach and national framework for safe drinking water in small water supplies of the Nordic water sector, International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, Volume 230, 2020, 113627, ISSN 1438-4639,

Status of risk-based approach and national framework for safe drinking water in small water supplies of the Nordic water sector

Saved in:
Author: Gunnarsdottir, Maria J.1; Gardarsson, Sigurdur M.1; Schultz, Anna Charlotte2;
Organizations: 1Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of Iceland, Iceland
2Technical University of Denmark, Denmark
3Faroese Food and Veterinary Authority, Faroe Islands
4University of Oulu, Finland
5Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Norway
6University of Lund, Sweden
7Åland Islands Environmental and Health Protection Authority, Åland Islands
8University of North Carolina, USA
9School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, UK
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.5 MB)
Persistent link:
Language: English
Published: Elsevier, 2020
Publish Date: 2021-10-18


Reliable safe water supply is a pillar of society and a key to public health. The Nordic countries have an abundance of clean fresh water as a source for drinking water supplies. They have followed developments in safeguarding water, both the recommendations of the World Health Organization framework for safe drinking water and European legislation. Worldwide, including the Nordic countries, small water supplies are less compliant with water safety regulation. The forthcoming EU directive on drinking water require risk-based approaches and improved transparency on water quality. This research looks at the Nordic frameworks for safe water supply, with emphasis on risk-based approaches and smaller systems. We analyzed the legal frameworks for safe water, the structure of the water sector across the Nordic countries and explored how prepared these countries are to meet these requirements. Our findings show that, while legal requirements are mostly in place, delivery of information to the public needs to be improved. Most Nordic countries are in the process of implementing risk-based management in large and medium size water supplies, whereas small supplies are lagging. We conclude that a key to success is increased training and support for small supplies. We suggest wider adoption of the Nordic model of cooperation with benchmarking of safe water for all to transfer knowledge between the countries. This work provides insights into challenges and opportunities for the Nordic countries and provides insights relevant to countries worldwide in their effort towards realization of SDG Target 6.1.

see all

Series: International journal of hygiene and environmental health
ISSN: 1438-4639
ISSN-E: 1618-131X
ISSN-L: 1438-4639
Volume: 230
Article number: 113627
DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2020.113627
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 218 Environmental engineering
Funding: The authors thank the Nordic Council – Nordic Working Group for Microbiology & Animal Health and Welfare (NMDD) for the financial support for this project.
Copyright information: © 2020. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license