Risk management: How the new Drinking Water Catchment Areas Ordinance can be implemented in practice

The ‘magic square’ for successful risk management

The amended Drinking Water Ordinance (TrinkwV) and the new Drinking Water Catchment Area Ordinance (TrinkwEGV) implemented the third EU Drinking Water Directive into German law in 2023. This will place new risk management obligations on the operators of water supply systems. Therefore, the TZW: DVGW-Technologiezentrum Wasser and badenovaNETZE are testing a practical approach for implementing risk management from the catchment area to the delivery to the consumer together. The research project ResiTrink!, which is funded by the badenova Innovation Fund, also aims at exploiting possible synergies between the protection of waterbodies and resources as well as creating a “blueprint” for other supply areas.

Risk management of the catchment area is a central component of the new TrinkwEGV. The first documentation on the assessment of drinking water catchment areas must be submitted by the operator to the responsible authority by November 12, 2025. Risk management of drinking water extraction and treatment plants, distribution and storage systems for drinking water will be mandatory for most operators from 2029 (TrinkwV § 34).

On the one hand, the new regulations will create new interfaces as well as opportunities and obligations for exchange between operators of water supply systems and the responsible authorities. On the other hand, practical aspects of the execution have yet to be clarified. All parties involved are now facing the challenge of mastering this task. For these reasons, the ResiTrink! research project illustrates possible ways of implementing risk management in accordance with the new requirements of the TrinkwEGV. The main elements of the project are

1. Development of a standard procedure for implementing the TrinkwV and TrinkwEGV

2. Utilization of synergies between waterbodies and resource protection

3. Model project character with a regional focus

Although ResiTrink! will not be completed until 2025, important insights have already been gained from the first two years of the project. The deadline for the first submission of the risk assessment for the catchment area to the authorities is a challenge for operators. In particular, the initial effort involved in building a risk management process should not be underestimated, even if it is often possible to draw on existing data and information in the first processing cycle. The “courage to leave gaps” is certainly required here and there. Many water suppliers, especially smaller companies, will nevertheless rely on external help when building their risk management.

The effort for regular updating can be kept to a minimum by systematizing the execution of the risk management, as developed in ResiTrink!. Further guidance can be expected from DVGW regulations and, with RiskPlus, a suitable web-based software solution is about to be launched on the market.

In summary, the findings from the ResiTrink! project have shown so far that four aspects are crucial to the success of risk management for the entire supply chain (see illustration):

  • Clear responsibilities within the relevant authorities and the water supply company
  • Good communication between stakeholders,
  • Availability of data and information on the catchment area and potential hazard events within a reasonable amount of time and with sufficient data content, and
  • Motivation of all those involved to carry out risk management in the best possible way.

If these four aspects are fulfilled, synergies can be optimally utilized to strengthen the protection of resources as well as waterbodies within the framework of risk management. The interim and later final results of ResiTrink! can be found on the homepage of badenova's Innovation Fund for Climate and Water Protection.

The text is an excerpt (translated from German) from an article that appeared in DVGW energie wasser praxis 05/2024. You can read the full text here (in German, pdf file).

In the PRAXIS: RELEVANT series, the TZW presents examples of successful projects that have been implemented together with water supply companies.

Futher information
Projekt homepage
Homepage RiskPlus