Open main menu

A water safety plan is a plan to ensure the safety of drinking water through the use of a comprehensive risk assessment and risk management approach that encompasses all steps in water supply from catchment to consumer.[1]


During the revision of the World Health Organization (WHO) Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality (GDWQ) the value of the Water Safety Plan (WSP) approach has repeatedly been highlighted in a series of expert review meetings in Berlin (2000), Adelaide (2001) and Loughborough (2001).[2]

Water safety plans are considered by the WHO as the most effective means of maintaining a safe supply of drinking water to the public. Their use should ensure that water is safe for all forms of human consumption and that it meets regulatory water standards relating to human health. ("Consumption" includes not only drinking per se, but also other forms of ordinary contact, such as bathing, dishwashing, and inhaling aerosolised water droplets.) Comprehensive risk assessment and risk management form the backbone of these plans, which aim to steer management of drinking water-related health risks away from end-of-pipe monitoring and response.

The principles and concepts of other risk management paradigms are extensively drawn upon in WSP design, including the multi-barrier approach and HACCP[1].

In order to produce a plan, a thorough assessment of the water supply process from water source to the consumer's tap must be carried out by the water provider. Hazards and risks should be identified, and appropriate steps towards minimizing these risks are then investigated.

Key componentsEdit

There are three key components to any Water Safety Plan (WSP)[3]:

  1. a system assessment, which determines if the drinking water supply chain as a whole is capable of supplying water of sufficiently high a standard to meet regulatory targets;
  2. operational monitoring, in order to identify control measures in the drinking water system; and
  3. management plans, which document the system assessment, describe actions taken during various operational conditions and define monitoring and communication plans.

WSPs in England and WalesEdit

The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) of England and Wales strongly supports the WHO's WSP initiative and offers guidance and support to water suppliers on the implementation of these plans.[4]

Key Steps for a Water Safety PlanEdit

  1. Assemble expert team- a group that is responsible to prepare and have documents of the process[5]
  2. Hazard assessment - identify hazards at every step of the supply chain
  3. Risk assessment - carried out a hazard affecting the water supply system
  4. Identify control measurements - identify control measures for every risk that is relevant
  5. Management control - control the system regularly and check for fails
  6. Validation monitoring - prepare to verify the monitoring check of WSP
  7. Supporting programmes- develop people's skills, quality control and knowledge of water safety
  8. All of the above- all elements of the WSP

Small Water supplyEdit

Small supplies are associated with waterborne disease outbreaks more than larger water supply systems.[6] Small supplies are typically more prone to collapse and spoilage than massive water supply systems and often face more administrative, financial or resource challenges. Looking to invest in small supplies of water will minimize outbreaks of waterborne disease and overall costs in terms of preventing disease, death, and associated costs of healthcare.


  1. ^ WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality - First Addendum to Third Edition, Volume I: Recommendations, 2006, p. 48
  2. ^ Water safety plans: Managing drinking-water quality from catchment to consumer by Annette Davison, Guy Howard, Melita Stevens, Phil Callan, Lorna Fewtrell, Dan Deere and Jamie Bartram, WHO 2005
  3. ^ Water safety plan manual: step-by-step risk management for drinking-water suppliers. World Health Organization. 2009. ISBN 9789241562638.
  4. ^ DWI – A brief guide to drinking water safety plans October 2005
  5. ^ "WATER SAFETY PLANS". Retrieved 2019-04-15.
  6. ^ "WATER SAFETY PLANS". Retrieved 2019-04-15.