New ISO Standards to Improve Quality of Water Services

A suite of new ISO standards offers the international community practical tools to address the global challenge of effectively managing limited water resources in order to provide access to safe drinking water and sanitation for the world’s population.

ISO has just published three standards providing guidelines for service activities relating to drinking water supply systems and wastewater sewerage systems. These international standards are designed to help water authorities and their operators achieve a level of quality that best meets the expectations of users and the principles of sustainable development.

ISO 24510, Activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services – Guidelines for the assessment and for the improvement of the service to users, is a service oriented standard that addresses the following topics:

  • a brief description of the components of the service relating to the users;
  • core objectives for the service, with respect to users’ needs and expectations;
  • guidelines for satisfying users’ needs and expectations;
  • assessment criteria for service to users in accordance with the guidelines provided;
  • examples of indicators linked to the assessment criteria that can be used for assessing the performance of the service.

ISO 24511, Activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services – Guidelines for the management of wastewater utilities and for the assessment of wastewater services, and ISO 24512, Activities relating to drinking water and wastewater services – Guidelines for the management of drinking water utilities and for the assessment of drinking water services, both management-oriented, address the following topics:

  • a brief description of the physical/infrastructural and managerial/institutional components of water utilities;
  • core objectives for water utilities, considered to be globally relevant at the broadest level;
  • guidelines for the management of the water utilities;
  • guidelines for the assessment of the water services with service assessment criteria related to the objectives, and performance indicators linked to these criteria.

The objective of these international standards is to provide the relevant stakeholders with guidelines for assessing and improving the service to users, and with guidance for managing water utilities, consistent with the overarching goals set by the relevant authorities. These standards are intended to facilitate dialogue between the stakeholders, enabling them to develop a mutual understanding of the functions and tasks that fall within the scope of water utilities.

They can also provide methods and tools to define, at local level, objectives and specifications, and assess and monitor performance for possible benchmarking among water utilities.

The implementation of the standards will be monitored to provide feedback for further improvement.

The new standards were developed by ISO/TC 224, Service activities relating to drinking water supply systems and wastewater systems - Quality criteria of the service and performance indicators.

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