Pesticides contribute to "apparent" decline in drinking water quality

An apparent deterioration in the quality of drinking water in England and Wales during 1991 has been ascribed by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) to changes in monitoring practices. But data in the DWI's second annual report suggest that pesticide contamination in drinking water was underestimated in earlier years.1 The DWI is also short of staff and resources to carry out independent checks on water quality and investigations of water supply incidents.

The report shows that 98.7% of water companies' 3.57 million determinations of drinking water quality during 1991 complied with legal requirements. Drinking water supplied in 1991, the DWI concludes, was of a "very high quality".

Nevertheless, the level of compliance showed a slight but statistically significant decline on the 1990 level of 99%. The DWI says that this was probably not a real deterioration because of changes in sampling pr

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