Unknown anthropogenic substances in ground- and drinking water

The Drinking Water Regulations require a water company to follow the statutory monitoring programme or otherwise have a monitoring programme that has been set up on the basis of a risk assessment. Given the scope of the statutory measuring programme, in 2018 Brabant Water set up an initial version of the so-called risk-controlled measuring programme, which includes the analysis of anthropogenic substances. It does, however, not apply to substances that have not previously been analysed by Brabant Water. In its approval of the risk-based monitoring programme, the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate stated that Brabant Water has to evaluate the added value of screening techniques. Currently, there is only limited information with about the quality of water with regards to (new) anthropogenic substances. In fact, we mostly know what is not there but we know little about what is actually there. To improve the information collected through the risk-based monitoring programme, research is being carried out to determine which anthropogenic substances are present at two abstraction points used by Brabant Water to produce drinking water using non-target screening techniques, data mining tools, as well as effect-based monitoring using (risk quantification by means of bioassays).

Use of new techniques for anthropogenic substances: non-target screening and effect-based monitoring

As part of the Joint Research Programme, various non-target screening approaches have been developed that make it possible to detect a wide range of substances. Research is also being carried out into the use of effect-based monitoring with bioassays, which provide insight into the potential presence of chemicals whose effects are relevant from a health perspective. In this project, two different non-target screening techniques, including data mining tools and bioassays, will be used to analyse water samples from two abstraction points to gain better insight into the presence of anthropogenic substances in Brabant Water’s ground- and drinking water. In future, this approach will allow to focus on the actual risks linked to the presence of anthropogenic substances in Brabant Water’s ground- and drinking water.

Tools to improve the monitoring programme for anthropogenic substances

Ultimately, the results of this project will provide Brabant Water with tools to further improve the monitoring programme for anthropogenic substances. It will provide insight into which technique is most suitable to be used in an abstraction area, based for example on its vulnerability. As a result:

  • The monitoring programme will be able to focus more on the actual risks;
  • A more complete picture of water quality will be obtained;
  • Customers can be better informed about risks;
  • Better control measures can be taken for anthropogenic substances.