Request for scientific and technical assistance on proposed EU minimum quality requirements for water reuse in agricultural irrigation and aquifer recharge

minimum quality requirement, reclaimed water, water reuse, agricultural irrigation
First published in EFSA Supporting Publications
10 July 2017
22 May 2017
Technical Report


At the request of the European Union Joint Research Centre, a Joint Research Centre draft report on European Union minimum quality requirements for water reuse in agricultural irrigation was reviewed, to determine whether: the methodology used was appropriate, the defined food crop categories were appropriate, the proposed minimum quality requirements were sufficient, and any risks had been overlooked. The European Food Safety Authority recommends that: (1) a full description of the methodology used in reviewing and assessing the literature, regulations and guidelines is provided; (2) there is a separate category for feed crops and pasture; (3) there is explicit mention of the fact that the tolerable level of risk used in the World Health Organization guidelines is formally accepted by European risk managers, and that information is provided on the data supporting the impact of the minimum quality requirements on public and animal health; (4) relevant publications on concentrations, dose–response relationships and disease burden for all the waterborne pathogens in treated wastewater in Europe consulted for the elaboration of this document are explicitly referenced in the document; (5) the quantitative microbial risk assessment outputs used in the document are revised on the basis of more recent information and European data; (6) risk assessment studies should inform whether the applied treatment ensures a sufficient decrease/removal of the hazard(s); (7) full clarity is provided on why specific indicator organisms are recommended for assessing the probability of the presence of pathogens; (8) an inventory of hazards to animal health in urban wastewater, and an explanation of why the proposed minimum quality requirements are considered appropriate to protect animal health, are provided; (9) reasoning on the lack of minimum quality requirements for chemical contaminants is provided; and (10) critical discussion on the importance of the uptake and accumulation of chemical contaminants, including compounds of emerging concern and disinfectant by-products, and the possible consequences for human and animal health, is included.

biocontam [at]
Question Number
On request from
European Commission