Safeguarding water supplies and helping utilities and other clients protect public health is a priority for manufacturers of water network fittings and components. Regulatory compliance is a key part of delivering high-quality products that are fit for purpose and minimise risk.
A common misunderstanding over water fittings regulations in the UK is creating confusion over clean water equipment compliance and specification, and could be a barrier to innovation, according to Paul Carrington, managing director of Aquacheck Engineering.
In maintaining some of the highest water quality standards in the world via some of its oldest networks, new equipment must meet agreed standards when it enters the UK market, to ensure public health and to create a level playing field for manufacturers and suppliers.
Government regulations set legal requirements for the design, installation, operation, and maintenance of water fittings, systems, and appliances, to prevent drinking water contamination and prevent misuse, waste, undue consumption, and erroneous measurement of water supplied by a water undertaker.
Consultants and other specifiers of water equipment have stated that fittings and components must be approved by the Water Regulations Approval Scheme (WRAS) in the UK. WRAS approval was routinely stated in project specifications and thought to demonstrate compliance of network components with water regulations.
According to Aquacheck, WRAS has always been a voluntary scheme and its approval is not necessary for products to comply.
The minimum legal requirement for products and components coming into contact with clean water supplies is compliance with Regulation 4(1)(a) and (b) from the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.
Regulation 4(1)(a) “requires all water fittings supplied, or to be supplied, with water by a water undertaker to be of an appropriate quality and standard”, and Regulation 4(1)(b) states that equipment must be suitable for the circumstances in which it is used.
There are currently three approval schemes operating in the UK for Regulation 4 compliance in relation to water fittings and components, of which WRAS is only one. The other two are NSFreg4 and the Kiwa UK Regulation 4 Product Approval Scheme (KUKreg4).
Aquacheck Engineering uses KUKreg4, which is a process that demonstrates full compliance with the UK Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 England & Wales, 2009 Northern Ireland and 2014 Byelaws Scotland.
Kiwa certification is accepted by water utilities, and in Aquacheck’s experience has more visibility and acceptance than WRAS approval.
The tests on Aquacheck Engineering products meet the requirements of Reg 4, and are performed at Kiwa’s testing and calibration laboratories, which are UKAS accredited to ISO17025.
Aquacheck believes that the insistence on WRAS approval for water equipment from some consultants and specifiers is not only out of step, it also risks their clients missing out on best-in-class products and technologies.
Aquacheck is already working closely with suppliers of pipeline components to ensure that information regarding Regulation 4 is readily available to installers. This is part of their plan to enable distributors as a safekeepers of water in the UK building services market.