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Water regulations


The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, known as Water Regulations, came into force on 1 July 1999. These regulations are important as they may affect you.

Safeguarding our water supply

These regulations have been introduced to make people aware of the serious risks to health that could be caused by our drinking water becoming polluted. This type of contamination is potentially the most harmful kind of environmental pollution.

Your responsibility

As the owner or occupier of premises, you are responsible for your water systems. Incorrectly installed plumbing that allows the water supply to become contaminated would make you liable for prosecution and fines, plus the costs of making the water system fit for drinking once again. These costs could be considerable. 

New water fittings

The Water Regulations state that anyone installing new water fittings after 1 July 1999 must ensure that they are of the appropriate quality and standard and are properly installed. A properly installed plumbing system prevents drinking water being contaminated with water used for other purposes, such as central heating, washing machines and dishwashers. Water used for industrial purposes could also be a major threat to the drinking water supply through incorrectly installed water systems and fittings.

Advanced notification

Under the regulations, you must notify us before starting certain types of plumbing work, including:

  • putting up new buildings
  • alterations and extensions to the water system in non-domestic premises
  • significantly changing the use of premises, or
  • installing bidets, certain types of baths and showers, pumps or boosters drawing more than 12 litres per minute, and reverse osmosis water filters or water treatment units.

Approved Plumber Scheme

Like most other water suppliers in Britain, we support the WaterSafe.

Plumbers registered with the scheme will:

  • have demonstrated their experience of plumbing work and knowledge of the regulations
  • certify that any installation or maintenance work satisfies the regulations
  • be legally responsible for any breaches of the regulations in the certified work (rather than the owner or occupier)
  • have liability insurance cover

In addition, approved contractors can carry out certain categories of work before giving notification, provided they certify that the work complies with the regulations on completion.

Find approved plumbers in your area

Frequently asked questions

I have never heard of Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations. What are they for?

Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations replace what was previously known as Water Byelaws. They have been passed by the Government to protect the water supply from being contaminated by substandard or incorrectly installed pipework and fittings. These regulations also prevent the waste, misuse and erroneous measurement of water.

How do they affect me?

You must ensure that:

  • new fittings are up to standard and correctly installed
  • all your fittings are properly maintained
  • water used for other purposes, such as central heating, washing machines and dishwashers, or industrial and commercial purposes, cannot pollute the water supply

Not all the fittings available for sale are of the appropriate quality and standard required by the regulations. A key part of meeting the requirements is preventing the backflow of potentially contaminated water into other parts of the system. The regulations define the types of devices required.

In addition, you must get our consent to carry out certain types of work, such as:

  • putting up new buildings
  • extending or altering the water system in non-domestic premise
  • significantly changing the use of premises, or
  • installing bidets, certain types of baths and showers, pumps or boosters drawing more than 12 litres per minute, reverse osmosis water filters or water treatment units

What if I ignore the regulations? The Government won’t send someone round to check, will they?

As your water supplier, we enforce the regulations. Under UK legislation we are allowed to inspect any property we supply to check your plumbing work and ensure that water fittings have been installed correctly.

If my plumbing system has not been installed correctly, can you make me put it right?

Yes, in certain circumstances. If a plumbing system poses a risk to health through contamination, for example, you would need to rectify it. In extreme cases, financial penalties can be imposed.

What happens if my plumber has not done a job correctly?

If you have had plumbing work completed and you’re not sure if it has been done correctly, please contact us. We’ll send someone to assess whether the work meets the legal requirements. If you used a plumber from the Approved Plumber Scheme they must take responsibility for the work and they can be struck off the scheme if their work is substandard.

What’s the difference between the Water Byelaws and the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations?

Water Byelaws were made and enforced by water suppliers. The current regulations make water companies responsible for enforcing rules for the whole water supply industry. We act as the inspecting body to make sure the regulations are adhered to.

Where can I get more information and advice about the regulations?

You can view or download the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and their schedules (SI 1999 No. 1148 and No. 1506) at HM Stationery Office.

For information and guidance on the regulations visit the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS). Run by the water industry, WRAS provides advice for anyone needing guidance on the principles of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations.

Alternatively, please contact our Water Regulations department by emailing us.



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