Today, an estimated two billion across the globe lack access to safely managed drinking water, and nearly half the world’s population (3.6 billion people), don’t have access to safely managed sanitation in their homes.
The Water Supply Regulations help to ensure the safe and efficient supply of water across the UK. Set up in 1999, the regulations lay out the legal requirements for the design, installation, and operation of plumbing systems, water fittings, and water-using appliances. The regulations apply from the instant water enters a property’s underground service pipe, to the point the water is used.
The WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) conformance mark/ label proves that a particular plumbing part complies with the standards set out by the regulations (as long as correctly installed).
WRAS approved products
The Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) is an advisory board established and funded by the UK’s water suppliers to promote compliance with the Water Supply Regulations.
As well as interpreting the legislation, WRAS also administers an approved plumber’s scheme. In addition, it provides a conformance mark that proves that a particular plumbing part or material complies with the standards set out by the regulations (as long as correctly installed).
WRAS approval is a quality standard, accepted by every water supplier in the UK.
It is not illegal to install a product that is not WRAS approved, however, compliance with the Water Supply Regulations may still need to be proved. In addition, while it is not illegal to sell an unsuitable fitting, it is to install one. It is the responsibility of the installer to meet their legal requirements.
The growing importance of water efficiency
As well as dealing with the quality of the UK’s water supply, the Water Supply Regulations also stop the unnecessary ‘waste’ of water. WRAS approved products, when correctly fitted and used, help to prevent leaks, and ensure a robust plumbing system that stands the test of time.
In addition, the new ISO 31600 standard provides a voluntary Unified Water Label scheme for plumbing products and water using appliances (e.g. taps, showers, dishwashers, washing machines, etc.). ISO 316000 helps people to make more efficient choices without compromising on experience or hygiene.
But there are calls to go further, and the UK government’s 2021 Written Ministerial Statement wants to introduce a mandatory water efficiency label to “inform consumers and encourage the purchase of more water efficient products”.
According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), “Such a Mandatory Water Efficiency Label will give consumers the information they need to make informed decisions when purchasing new water using products for their home. It will also help developers and water companies to improve water efficiency in buildings”.
According to the government, a mandatory water efficiency label could help to save consumers over £270 million on bills over 10 years.