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Drinking water must be pure, potable and free from pathogenic organisms. As regards quality and safety, the German water industry is a world leader. Consumers also have a high level of confidence in drinking water. The DVGW is committed to high German service levels combined with high technical and economic efficiency.

Boy drinking water; © Foto: Shutterstock

Enhancing the drinking water sector in a sustainable way

Improving the perception of drinking water

The German drinking water sector occupies a leading position worldwide. Drinking water is one of the best controlled foodstuffs in Germany. With the aim of maintaining this high level, the approximately 6,000 water utilities will face greater challenges than ever before in the coming years.

New times require more protection

The climatic and demographic change combined with changed consumer habits and technical trends such as digitalisation, but also the increasing pollution of water resources by man-made pollutants place new demands on the utilities. In future, it will no longer be sufficient for water utilities to balance the tension between services for the public and economic efficiency solely by optimisation of their operational management. Rather, entrepreneurial decisions are required, which are increasingly taken in the political context. This makes it all the more important to promote expert political dialogue and, together with representatives from politics and business, to develop perspectives to secure the future of the sector.

  • Climate change: Extreme periods of heat and drought as well as heavy rainfall and flooding bring the water supply to its limits and require adaptations to installations and infrastructures.
  • Trace substances: The ageing population and the high quality of medical care in Germany are literally reflected in pharmaceutical inputs in the water cycle.
  • Nitrate: Pollution of water bodies by nitrate is mainly caused by fertiliser-intensive agriculture.
  • Decline in water use & aging infrastructure: Declining water use volumes are crucial from an economic and infrastructural point of view. They increase the pressure to invest heavily in renewing networks and facilities and adapting them to new requirements.
  • Competing demands for use: In land use, the protection of drinking water resources often does not take precedence over economic interests. Contamination occurs and increases the cost of water treatment.

In view of the economic and social importance of the public good “water”, the challenges facing the sector are a task for societyas a whole and can only be solved by consensus. This requires creating an awareness of the significance of drinking water in politics, business and society.

DVGW's Water Topics
Profile of the German Water Sector
With the current "Profile of the German Water Sector" 2020, the editors (six German water associations) provide an up-to-date overview of water supply and sanitation in Germany. This gives the interested public and policymakers the opportunity to obtain comprehensive information about the performance of the industry, the variety of its tasks and current challenges.
DVGW's Research and Development Topics Water

Multi-barrier principle: The philosophy of German drinking water supply

Basis for safety and sustainability

First Barrier: Sustainable protection of water resources
Gewässerschutz und Ressourcenmanagement
Drinking Water Dam © DVGW. Fotograf: Roland Horn

Establish drinking water protection areas

Protection of water catchment areas is an efficient instrument in water resources management in order to provide wholesome and cleandrinking water for the customer.

Monitoring with foreward view

Performance of monitoring in the catchment area assures early warning of hazards to the quality of water resources.

Cooperation with other stakeholders

Water resources are mainly affected by diffuse pollution, in particular from agriculture. Measures to protect water resources impacted by various local activities should ideally worked out in conjunction with stakeholders.

Second Barrier: Water supply in accordance with DVGW standards
Water Supply Infrastructure ©DVGW

Over 300 DVGW Technical Rules cover all processes in water supply

  • water resources management
  • water catchment, Water treatment
  • water storage
  • water distribution
  • installation inside buildings

Multi-step approach to water treatment

At the simplest level, natural treatment measures, e.g. filtration. At the most advanced level, state-of-the-art methods, e.g. membrane technologies.

Third Barrier: Safe installations inside buildings
Drinking Water Installation © Foto: DVGW, Roland Horn

Professional plumbers

Planning, construction and maintenance of installations inside buildings is the exclusive domain of qualified plumbers with technical know-how and expertise.

Use of DVGW-certified products and materials

The DVGW as certified body tests the behaviour of materials and products in contact with drinking water to assure fitness for this purpose.

Safety devices to secure the water distribution network

Backflow preventers and other devices ensure that no cross connections between the installations inside buildings and the water distribution network occur.

DVGW Set of Rules

The following standard related to hygiene in drinking water installations is translated into English and available as PDF file:

Hygienic-microbial Irregularities in Drinking Installations; Methods and Measures to Remedy

Shielding effect of delaminated pipe coatings

Position statement of 26. April 2019 by DVGW, fkss, ÖVGW, SGK and SVGW

In the context of cathodic corrosion protection, the shielding effect of delaminated coatings is frequently discussed. Especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, the use of non-shielding coating systems is prescribed for certain pipelines. This increasingly leads to the supersession of polyethylene-based coating systems in these countries. In recent years, discussions with regard to shielding are also increasingly taking place in Europe, accompanied by the increasing marketing of allegedly non-shielding products. However, the use of coatings with significantly poorer dielectric properties contradicts Central European practice.