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Last changed: 23/04/12
Water is essential to human life. 60 to 70 percent of the human body consists of water, which it is constantly eliminating and requiring replenishment. An adult should drink an average of two liters of water daily. However, the water ”intended for human consumption”, available from the public water works network or the private well, is not only suitable for drinking. It is also used to prepare food and drink, for personal hygiene purposes, for washing dishes, or for doing the laundry. Germans use an average of 120 liters of drinking water daily.
To make the water fit to drink, cook and wash with, it must meet high standards as concerns chemical ingredients and microbiological quality. Its use or the enjoyment of drinking water may not jeopardize human health, which means it must be free of pathogens and chemical compounds that may cause illness. Its color, odor, and taste should make it ‘appetizing’. The quality of drinking water is statutorily regulated by the Drinking water Ordinance (Legislation).
The Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt - UBA) is the only federal supreme authority in charge of drinking water hygiene. Within the area of authority accorded to the Federal Ministry of Health, UBA develops the scientific foundation and benchmarks for safe drinking water supply. It evaluates potential health risks related to abstraction, treatment and distribution of drinking water and develops schemes to avoid such risks and-- if need be- to control these risks.
The UBA also houses the Drinking water Commission which advises the German Federal Ministry of Health on issues of drinking water hygiene.
UBA is a World Health Organization (WHO) Collaborating Centre devoted to drinking water hygiene.
UBA regularly publishes Recommendations and Statements on current topics related to drinking water hygiene as well as guidebooks, for example on the health aspects of plumbing systems for drinking water.
The German Federal Ministry of Health and the Federal Environment Agency issue a joint report on the quality of water for human consumption in German.
For the German Environmental Survey on Chlildren 2003/2006 the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) determined concentrations of heavy metals in drinking water.