European Water Treatment:
Equipment Standards—
Harmony or Discord?
By Tony Frost

Go to: AquaTech 2000 Preview

Emergence of product standards for drinking water treatment equipment in Europe promises a new dimension to the prospects of the industry. Hitherto, attitudes from some European water supply companies and regulators on the practice of enhancing water quality by in-home treatment, have been discouraging to say the least-and sometimes positively hostile. The very existence of internationally approved test standards imparts indisputable integrity for compliant products. The standards drafting process itself, however, poses enormous hurdles threatening that opportunity.


Standards 'normalisation'
Harmonization of product standards is complex and often emotive. Dissimilar practices between European countries are highlighted in the drafting process, creating conflict that occasionally extends to attempted domination by aggression. Some member states have standards in place-in some countries, they're a legal requirement. Awareness of the fact that the EN (European "norme" or standard) must be adopted by each member state, and replace any relevant national standard, creates apprehension because manufacturers will have built their products around their respective national standard or national custom and practice. The role of the drafting group is to produce a standard by consensus that satisfies everyone. This can be a daunting prospect given the wide diversity between national practices and the individual commercial interests of delegates.

The process started about 10 years ago when TC164/WG2 began a document entitled: "Specification for installations inside buildings conveying water for human consumption." (These acronyms stand for subcommittees of the Comité Européen de Normalisation, or CEN, which oversees standards harmonization between its members—"TC" represents Technical Committee and "WG" stands for Working Group.) Among other things, this document identified a range of water treatment equipment that then resulted in the birth of WG13 charged with the development of product standards for that equipment. Separate drafting groups (customarily referred to as ad hoc groups) were set up to start work on the first five equipment categories approved by TC164 for drafting activity.

Acronymonia—Deciphering all the letters

The Comité Européen de Normalisation, or CEN, is the body based in Brussels that's responsible for management and development of European standards. Members of CEN are the national standards bodies of the European Union (EU), European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and the Czech Republic.

When a CEN standard is approved, all the CEN members are bound to adopt the standard and withdraw any relevant existing national standard. In general, standards aren't mandatory in that a manufacturer or supplier isn't bound to comply with them. This is true of CEN standards. Of course, a manufacturer may be technically or commercially disadvantaged if his products don't comply. However, in some member countries, standards are mandatory or it's customary that the national standard is applied where one exists.

Work on CEN standards is controlled by "Technical Committees" (TCs). "Water Supply" is managed by TC164 which in turn is divided into "Work Groups" (WGs). WG13 is responsible for "drinking water treatment inside buildings." There are 13 product standards approved for drafting activity by WG13. They are:

1. Mechanical Filters Part 1—80-to-150 microns
2. Mechanical Filters Part 2—1-to-80 microns
3. Electrolytic Dosing—aluminium anodic corrosion protection
4. Chemical Dosing Part 1—preset dosing rates
5. Chemical Dosing Part 2—adjustable dosing rates
6. Ion exchange Water Softeners
7. Reverse Osmosis and Membrane Filters
8. Ultraviolet Disinfection
9. Nitrate Reduction—ion exchange
10. Activated Carbon Filters
11. Composite Filters
12. Rehardening Equipment
13. Maintenance—a general standard to cover all of the above

In addition a request to re-introduce Physical Conditioners into the programme is being considered.

The standard that has reached the most advanced stage is that of Mechanical Filters Part 1, which deals with particle filters having a rating between 80 and 150 microns. Use of this type of device is almost entirely restricted to Germany and Austria and, as they have a "DIN" standard specifically for such filters, progress has been relatively unhindered.

Not so the case with the standard for water softeners which, with their universal application (with the possible exclusion of Holland and Denmark), has been the subject of considerable controversy. Again a German standard (DIN 19636) exists; but there's also a "Presidential Decree" in Italy and specific regulatory requirements in France. There was therefore considerable pressure within the drafting group, to emulate the DIN standard with prescriptive requirements relating to:
-- Microbiological control,
-- Automatic regeneration every 96 hours (regardless of water usage), and
-- Blending to a minimum hardness of 150mg/L (CaCO

Conflict over softeners
Although only a small minority of softeners sold in Europe comply with these requirements, representation at the drafting group meetings was such that pressure to embody them in the standard was disproportionately high. The new European Drinking Water Directive is significant in this context because changes in the Directive negate the need for inclusion of microbiological control (including the 96 hour regeneration) or blending. The conventional practice in these circumstances is to create different "types" or "classes" of product within the standard. However, after a two-day meeting in Paris two years ago, agreement on the criteria for two "types" could not be obtained; so it was agreed that reference would be made to the above features qualified by the phrase: "if necessary to meet national or local regulation."

Nonetheless, subsequent drafts contained continual reference to microbiological control. This met with sustained opposition and, following a presentation by a CEN Project Manager on standards drafting principles, the draft was rejected by WG13 on the grounds it wasn't representative of the market as a whole and it lacked consensus.

Recognizing the significance of the controversy over microbial regrowth, Aqua Europa (see A Federation of Associations) convened a meeting of three European microbiological experts to adjudicate on the issue. The conclusion of the experts (see "The HPC Debate: Bacterial Re-Growth in Post-Treatment Devices," WC&P, July 2000) was "…it is the opinion of this group that growth of bacteria in post-treatment devices does not represent a significant human health risk and that any European standards relating to these devices should be based upon functionality and not on microbiological parameters."

A Federation of Associations—What is it?

Aqua Europa is a "federation of trade associations." Its members are the national trade associations of the various European countries-covering the water treatment equipment industry. Its role, much like any trade association, is to promote the interests of its members. But, in the case of a multinational association such as Aqua Europa, the objectives are to provide a forum for establishing a common position on key issues which affect the industry and provide or obtain the funding to promote and lobby for the achievement of that position.

With support from industry, Aqua Europa was very effective in clarifying some of the important aspects of the new Drinking Water Directive during its development. Its role now is to endeavour to obtain agreement among the membership to support national initiatives in sustaining the essential parameters of the directive.

In the United Kingdom, proposals exist deviating from the directive over sodium and minimum hardness on health-related grounds. In Germany, there's a threat to reintroduce a bacterial colony count limit. And, in several other states, there are proposals for minimum hardness on the grounds of corrosivity. All of these proposals are despite the many studies contrary to their claims. The UK proposals can be accessed at:

Just as importantly, Aqua Europa monitors the progress of CEN standards harmonization within the European Union. In fact, it serves as the secretariat, so Aqua Europa, its member organizations and the companies they represent are actually funding the process.

As a consequence, the convenor of the softener standard drafting group proposed that reference to microbiological growth control should be removed except for the one phrase "if necessary to meet national or local regulation." This proposal was embodied in the text at the drafting group meetings last April and June and the draft document is currently being revised on that basis with the intention it should be presented to the next WG13 meeting this month.

While there was general acceptance of the convenor's proposal, it was rejected by the German delegation on the grounds that the standard won't contain the DIN 19636 requirements, which are mandatory in Germany. Their recourse, in these circumstances, is a procedure called an "A-Deviation." This allows a CEN member to request that certain aspects of a standard do not apply in their country because of "existing regulations." The A-Deviation takes the form of an informative annex to the standard that identifies the aspects of the standard that's in conflict with the particular national regulation.

Status of other standards
The Mechanical Filters Part 1 has been circulated for public enquiry and the drafting group has met to review the various national objections. A "final vote" for submission on the revised document is expected in the autumn.

The Electrolytic Dosing and Chemical Dosing Part 1 will be circulated for the public inquiry stage in September.

Mechanical Filters Part 2 (for those rated from 1 to 80 microns) is expected to be submitted, along with the softener standard, to WG13 in September for consideration for the public inquiry stage.

RO/Membrane Filters, Ultraviolet, Activated Carbon and Composite Filters are in the early stages of drafting.

The Maintenance Standard was originally proposed in order to defuse the deadlock in the softener standard drafting by extracting any reference to microbial growth to a separate document. It's intended to accommodate installation, routine maintenance and sanitation procedures common to the whole range of water treatment products. The first meeting is scheduled to take place in July. Maintenance of water treatment products is a vital issue for successful performance, customer satisfaction and industry reputation. However, this drafting group faces the difficulty of avoiding reopening the microbiological issues tentatively resolved in the softener standard. Furthermore, maintenance cannot be effectively enforced without the necessary legal structure in place. Such a structure only exists for water supplies in only a few of the CEN member countries.

WG13 is currently considering proposals that Physical Water Conditioners be reintroduced into the programme. They were originally deleted form the list on the grounds there's no generally accepted technical explanation for the phenomenon and no industry accepted test method. With the development of the German DVGW W512 test method for assessing the performance of a scale inhibitor, several of the European trade associations have revised their position with regard to acceptance of the technology based on compliance with an accepted test method. A proposal is being prepared for consideration at the WG13 meeting in September.

European Drinking Water Directive
A European directive differs from a standard in that its application is mandatory for members of the European Union. They must not only adopt a directive into their regulations; they're legally bound to comply with it.

The first European Drinking Water Directive (80/778/EEC) was approved in 1980 and was ultimately adopted by each member state.

A revised directive (98/83/EC) was approved at the end of 1998. Each member state must adapt their regulations in accordance with the new directive by the end of this year. And they must comply with requirements of the new directive must be met by the end of 2003.

The new directive is simpler than the original. It's based on the 1996 WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality and divides parameters into three categories: 1) microbiological parameters (mandatory), 2) chemical parameters (mandatory), and 3) indicator parameters (monitoring purposes only).
The importance of the new directive to our industry is that it:
-- Excludes the original requirement to reharden softened water,
-- Relegates sodium to the indicator parameters, and
-- Excludes the original maximum guide levels for total bacteria counts.

These are the three primary issues that have thus far been used to challenge the potability of softened water. Unfortunately, some member states seek to reintroduce some of these parameters using the perceived flexibility embodied in the new directive.

Aqua Europa and, in some cases, the national trade associations are actively lobbying the appropriate regulators regarding how the EU Drinking Water Directive is translated into national regulations. It also continues to work toward harmonization of equipment standards as the de facto secretariat of the CEN for water supply issues, particularly with respect to those within buildings.

About the author
Tony Frost is a director of Aqua Focus Ltd., a consultant in water treatment design, supplies and services in Newport, Shropshire, England. He's also currently president of Aqua Europa and chairman of the BSi Committee which "mirrors" the CEN/WG13 activities in the United Kingdom. He can be contacted at +44 1952 691219 or email:


AquaTech 2000


the World of Water
By Ronald Y. Perez and Carlos David Mogollon
WC&P Associate and Executive Editor

As "the land of water" crisscrossed by canals traversed by water taxis in warmer months and skaters in colder ones, it's only natural the Netherlands hosts AquaTech, the largest trade show for the water technology and management sector.

The country where the literary figure Hans Brinker and the silver skates swept into our global consciousness also hosts one of the deepest commercial ports in the world, Rotterdam, and The Hague, which is home to the International Court of Justice and Peace as well as key offices of the European Union and United Nations.
Every September in even numbered years, however, all eyes in the water industry are on Amsterdam. The 2000 AquaTech event once again will be hosted at the Amsterdam RAI Exhibition and Congress Centre. This year, it's held Sept. 26-29.

Bigger expectations
Expect more than 25,000 people from 700 firms and 100 countries to descend on this beautiful city known for its great masters of art on exhibit-with museums dedicated to Rembrandt and Van Gogh-and world-class soccer (or football, if you prefer). At least half of all the exhibitors come from abroad (31 countries being represented this year), which is directly related to the 15 percent increase in sheer numbers over 1998.

A perennial attraction to attendees, national pavilions will play a prominent role at the show. Pavilions from the United Kingdom, Spain and the United States, coordinated by the Water Quality Association (WQA), will be present to provide focal points to companies in particular applications of water treatment. Others will be from Italy and Germany.

Dan Wyckoff, WQA World Assembly Division director, said the association's pavilions serve as "a focal point for companies in the point-of-use/point-of-entry (POU/POE) water industry, from filter cartridges to drilling to membrane filter systems."

"Our pavilion is a 950-square-meter area that will include international pavilions from Russia, India, Israel, Taiwan and Korea as well," added WQA Meetings and Conventions director Jeannine Collins. "The WQA also will sponsor daylong educational seminar series, which are open to the public on POE water treatment applications."

WQA World Assembly Division—Seminar Agenda

On Wed., Sept. 27, the Water Quality Association will sponsor an all-day seminar on POU/POE water treatment technology. Presentations will be given in English. There is no charge to AquaTech 2000 attendees for this seminar.

Following is the schedule:
9:30 a.m.—Registration and welcome
10:00 a.m.—"Membrane Technologies"
Speaker: Peter Cartwright, Cartwright Consulting
11:00 a.m.—Break
11:30 a.m.—"Filtration"
Speaker: Michael Baird, Hydro-Flo Filtration Systems
12:30 p.m.—Lunch
2:00 p.m.—"Disinfection"
Speaker: Jim Carbonari, Pentapure Inc.
3:00 p.m.—Break
3:30 p.m.—"Ion Exchange Processes"
Speaker: Michael Gottlieb, ResinTech Inc.
4:30 p.m.-Close

Overall, WQA represents many of the 60 exhibitors from the United States. And, for the second time, the association will convene World Assembly Division meetings at AquaTech.

Integral water management
The most innovative aspect of this year's show is the thematic approach chosen in response to the many branches in water management that overlap into one another. Areas like potable water, wastewater and industrial process water increasingly demand solutions that require more comprehensive approaches. Addressing these issues, AquaTech focuses the thrust of its sessions to integral water management.

Themes at the show can basically be broken down in three categories: "sewerage," new market structures and industrial water treatment. First, 10 innovative sewerage-or sewage-projects of Dutch municipalities will be on display as models at the pavilion dedicated to the subject. The pavilion will be coordinated by the Rioned Foundation in conjunction with AquaTech. Second, new market structures are a direct result of a larger presence from water supply companies. They'll be exhibiting in far greater numbers this year than in the past.

Looking for a growing international audience, exhibitors in this category include Vivendi and Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux from France, Severn Trent and Thames Water from the UK, and NUON and Essent from the Netherlands. Lastly, water in industry will be discussed in seminars on every day of the show.

Considering the show takes place in seven halls of the Europa complex, which equals an area of roughly 25,000 square meters, it can quickly become a problem to maneuver around the exhibition without getting lost or at least flustered. To assist those attending, AquaTech has devised a series of tour routes enabling visitors a better chance to find a particular exhibit or service/product that they seek. Routes are divided into five areas: 1) potable water; 2) industrial process water and wastewater management; 3) sewage, transport, distribution and storage; 4) process control technology and process automation; research and consultancy, and 5) utilities. Free maps will be distributed at the entrance, and can be viewed at AquaTech's website (

Other attractions
Special programs are also being offered throughout the four-day show. Innovations in Conventional and Advanced Water Treatment Processes will take place all four days. It's presented by the International Water Association (IWA) along with American Water Works Association, KIWA and Industrial Workers of the World. Implementation of the EU Nutrient Emission Guidelines runs from Sept. 27-29. IWA and European Water Association in cooperation with the Netherlands Association on Water Management (NVA) are organizing the event. As discussed earlier, WQA will conduct educational seminars on Sept. 27 regarding POE applications.

Tulips Along the Canal—
A Visitor's Guide to Amsterdam

Face it, some cities are just famous for certain things. Nightlife is to Amsterdam what beer is to Milwaukee.

On stage, you'll find comedy clubs such as Boom Chicago (English), cabarets, an open-air amphitheater and traditional venues for dance and plays. Holland Casino is in the Lido district. Seymour Likely and Escape are two recommended discos. And cafes and nightclubs abound offering musical choices for a variety of tastes.

Amsterdam has 727,095 inhabitants, 400,000 bikes, 165 canals, 42 museums and 206 paintings by Van Gogh

With its unique gabled and gothic architecture, Amsterdam is home to some outstanding tourist sites and venues that can be seen during canal tours, bicycle rides or shopping excursions for diamonds or antiques. If you're going to be outdoors, however, make sure to pack a sweater or a light jacket as the high temperature average in September is about 64°F with average lows getting down to 51°F.

First, though, you must find a practical way to get to and from the RAI along with thousands of others. By auto, the RAI is adjacent to the Amsterdam ring road (A10), at exit S109. By train, the intercity line from Roosendahl/Belgium connects at Schiphol with trains heading to the Amsterdam RAI station. By tram, you'll arrive at Amsterdam Central Station where you can take the Amstelveen express tram 51 (exit at the Amsterdam RAI station) or tram 4 (exit at the RAI Europaplein). Air travelers can take advantage of a direct train connection from Schiphol Airport to the RAI exhibition hall.

The conference lasts from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., except for the last day when it closes at 5 p.m. There's plenty of time to do shopping, visit a few museums, partake in some of the after hours activities and enjoy some of the best food in the world. You might even want to extend your stay and transform it into a mini-vacation.

A thumbnail sketch has been provided to make the most of your time in Amsterdam. Shopping is a must for all first-time visitors, and selections are wide in this area. Two must-see streets boasting a variety of shops are the Utrechtsestraat and the Haarlemmerstraat. Large department stores are located on the Dam, the Rokin, the Kalverstraat, the Nieuwezijds Voorburgwal and the Leidsestraat.

Hours for museums vary, so you may want to contact Amsterdam RAI or your hotel for specific times. Here is a sampling of the more recognizable: The Rijksmuseum (the National Gallery), Stadhouderskade 42; Van Gogh Museum, Paulus Potterstraat 7; Stedelijk Museum (Municipal Museum), Paulus Potterstraat 13; and Anna Frank Huis, Prinsengracht 263.

As far as nightlife, too many establishments to name here. Instead, we will break it down by areas of the city. Area Leidseplein and Area Rembrandtplein provide bars with live music. Area Spui/Munt lists Brown Café Hoppe and Grand Café's as premiere coffeehouses. Area Central Station/Dam features tasting bars of beer and liquor. Area Jordan is one of Amsterdam's historical neighborhoods and has a large concentration of small restaurants and bars.

Speaking of restaurants, indulge in some of these top eateries: Bordewijk, Noordermarkt 7; Christophe, Leliegracht 46; Ciel Blue (located at the Okura Hotel), Ferdinand Bolstraat 333; Excelsior, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 2-8; and Vermeer (located at the Barbizon Palace), Prins Hendrikkade 59.

For more information on the web, peruse these sites:,,,, or

For additional information on AquaTech 2000 or RAI International, call Martijn Roosen at +31 20 5491212, +31 20 6464469 (fax) or email:

Public water debates will be held daily on subjects relating to the show's basic three themes. Speakers from both government and industrial institutions will be on hand to provide lively talk on various topics. The International AquaTech Innovation Award will again be awarded to the exhibitor displaying the most innovative product or service. Last year, the prize was given for the first time. To liven up things, dozens of Dutch teams as well as other international teams will shoot for the VWN Challenge Trophy in pipe fitters competitions.

The biennial event known as AquaTech is comparable to roughly six WQA conventions held simultaneously. It offers an opportunity to see examples of the best in water treatment from around the world and from every perspective. Keep in mind, that requires a lot of preplanning to make sure you're not just tilting at windmills once you get there.