Conformity is the best solution
Failing to meet industry water standards is costly. That's why, says James Roper, it pays to install the right system.
Approvals and regulations that govern the water alternative treatment industry should play a huge part in the specification process of products and systems for water treatment applications. Yet some contractors and specifiers actually seem to be ignoring the impact that installing unapproved systems could have, in favour of cutting costs.
The Water Regulations are crucial in governing the water treatment industry and not adhering to them could have disastrous consequences if water becomes contaminated. The primary standards of conformity are for pipework to meet the requirements of the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) and then for systems that are responsible for transporting potable water, to be fully WRAS (Water Regulations Advisory Scheme) approved.
Water authorities have a responsibility to meet these requirements to ensure they are not putting the health of those within the community they serve at risk. If a water authority is found not to be complying with the water regulations, either Ofwat or the DWI can take action against the company.
Depending on the scale of the breach, this could mean taking legal action to ensure the company replaces products and systems or, in the worst cases, a financial penalty of up to 10% of the company’s turnover can be imposed.
However, it is not solely the responsibility of the water authority to ensure the regulations are met – there are consequences for all parties involved in the water treatment chain if these approvals are not adhered to, from water authorities through to the installers, contractors and specifiers.
Starting at the top of the chain, if water authorities do not dictate to contractors that all systems and products, which are being installed as part of a project, need to be DWI- or WRAS-approved products then they could face prosecution or financial penalties as previously mentioned.
If water authorities do state this, but then the contractor does not take this on board and goes ahead with installing unapproved products, they could be requested to replace the entire installation with approved products at their own cost.
As the regulations become stricter, this is becoming more of a risk for contractors; as they look to specify cost effective products, approvals are often overlooked.
If a situation arises, in which unapproved products have been installed and water becomes contaminated as a result, the end user can sue the water authority, in addition to any action taken by Ofwat or the DWI. This highlights the importance of approvals, and reinforces the message that the first question anyone should ask when specifying or installing products for water treatment applications is: “Are the products approved?”
The legal and financial implications of not adhering to the industry’s standards and regulations can be crippling for not only water companies, but also contractors and installers. All parties involved with water treatment projects need to be confident they are working with products and systems that are fully approved and pipework is no exception.
Plastic pipework has long been the material of choice for water treatment applications, but Durapipe UK is advising that people working within the industry should be careful not to presume that a product has the right approvals just because it is the system that has always been used. This is particularly true of refurbishment projects, when contractors replace the pipework with a like for like product, but do not check that it still has approval, or in some cases that it ever did.
The requirements to meet approvals change over time and the DWI’s testing requirements have become more stringent over recent years. At one time, plastic pipework material that used lead and tin stabilisers would have met with DWI approval, but this is no longer the case as testing has proved they could leach out into the drinking water and cause contamination.
This means certain systems, that once had DWI approval, will simply no longer meet the requirements.
Durapipe UK shares the objectives of WRAS and DWI to provide water of a suitable drinking quality and so is committed to providing products that meet and exceed the stringent standards. As a result, the pipework manufacturer is constantly investing in developing its products in line with the regulation developments, which is why it has now removed all lead and tin stabilisers from its PVC pipework range and replaced them with calcium stabilisers to ensure there is no risk of contamination.
The company is keen to stress that not all plastic pipework systems are the same – Durapipe PVC pipework and fittings are the only fully approved PVC system available on the market. By installing these systems, water authorities and contractors can be reassured that they are installing products that are safe to use with drinking water and will not result in any legal action or penalties from the regulatory bodies.
The majority of consumers do not have a choice about where their drinking water comes from, so they trust that it is safe to drink.
Therefore, it is the responsibility of water authorities to ensure that, to the best of their knowledge, they are conforming to all water regulations to ensure they do not lose the trust of the public and avoid facing heavy legal and financial implications from the industry regulators.
James Roper is industrial brand manager at Durapipe UK.
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