In Greenland, we collect drinking water mostly from lakes and rivers. Nukissiorfiit has the responsibility to provide healthy and plentiful drinking water to towns and settlements via waterworks. The Government of Greenland has a number of statutory duties associated with the approval and control of the water supply.
Approval of waterworks and raw water
When drinking water is found in, for example, lakes and rivers, the water is designated as raw water. The waterworks treat and purify the raw water before it is discharged to consumers. There are about 74 waterworks in Greenland. If a waterworks must be renovated or built from scratch, the Government of Greenland must first approve it.
Water protection zones are important for our public health and industry
Rural areas around the rivers and lakes that are used for water supply are designated as water protection zones. Polluting activities are not permitted in water protection zones. It is not permitted to travel by motor vehicle, construct buildings, keep animals, and operate businesses. These water protection zones can soon be viewed on NunaGis.
It is important to respect water protection zones as clean drinking water is essential to our public health and industry. If the water is not clean, the fishing industry, for example, can lose its production permit.
The Government of Greenland has the responsibility of designating water protection zones and has the authority to grant exemptions for individual activities and conditions. In places where a raw-water lake and water treatment are considered sufficiently robust, the Government of Greenland can issue special rules that allow certain circumstances and activities that otherwise are prohibited in the water protection zone.
Control of water quality and inspection of waterworks
The waterworks are expected to conduct regular monitoring of water quality according to a programme set out by the Government of Greenland. The Government of Greenland checks that the water quality requirements are met and maintains supervision of waterworks, raw water supply, and water protection zones.
Chapter 6 of Parliament of Greenland Act No. 9 of 22 November 2011 on the Protection of the Environment provides the legal foundation for the drinking water sector. The legal basis for the creation of water protection zones, approval of waterworks, as well as supervision and monitoring shall be reviewed and adjusted on a regular basis. This is the duty of the Government of Greenland.