A systematic literature review of the enabling environment elements to improve implementation of water safety plans in high-income countries

J Water Health. 2018 Feb;16(1):14-24. doi: 10.2166/wh.2017.175.


Effective risk management helps ensure safe drinking water and protect public health. Even in high-income countries, risk management sometimes fails and waterborne disease, including outbreaks, occur. To help reduce waterborne disease, the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality recommend water safety plans (WSPs), a systematic preventive risk management strategy applied from catchment to consumer. Since the introduction of WSPs, international guidelines, national and state legislation, and local practices have facilitated their implementation. While various high-income OECD countries have documented successes in improving drinking water safety through implementing WSPs, others have little experience. This review synthesizes the elements of the enabling environment that promoted the implementation of WSPs in high-income countries. We show that guidelines, regulations, tools and resources, public health support, and context-specific evidence of the feasibility and benefits of WSPs are elements of the enabling environment that encourage adoption and implementation of WSPs in high-income countries. These findings contribute to understanding the ways in which to increase the uptake and extent of WSPs throughout high-income countries to help improve public health.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Developed Countries*
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control*
  • Drinking Water / standards*
  • Environmental Monitoring
  • Government Regulation
  • Humans
  • Public Health*
  • Risk Management
  • Water Quality / standards*
  • Water Supply / standards*
  • Waterborne Diseases / prevention & control*


  • Drinking Water