Complying with Your Local Water Authority

When you think about your local water authority – which, I’d guess, is seldom – it’s probably mostly as a service provider. Their role is to provide you, and everyone else in the area, with clean, fresh water. Correct. But you may be overlooking one important word: authority. They are the water authority in your area. This means that they have the right to demand certain requirements of you – and to take action if you fail to abide by them.

WRAS rules and regulations

As a business owner, it is your responsibility to ensure that your staff have access to drinking water. Part of that responsibility is to ensure that all drinking equipment is safe, clean and compliant with the 1999 Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Scottish Byelaws. The easiest way to do that is to ensure that any drinking fountains, coolers, or water bottle refill stations you purchase or hire for installation on your premises are WRAS-approved. It’s this that your water authority will be policing.

While WRAS (Water Regulation Advisory Scheme) approval isn’t obligatory, the role of the organisation is to test all drinking water equipment – from materials and components to the completed units – to ensure that they comply with government regulations. Some manufacturers, especially those from overseas, forego this process as it can be expensive and time consuming. MIW’s leading drinking fountain manufacturer, Elkay, for example, invested a considerable sum over a two-year period to attain WRAS approval. They didn’t need to, as there is nothing preventing non-conforming products being sold in this country. Unfortunately, the burden of proving the suitability of equipment falls squarely on the owner of the business in which it is installed.

When you install any drinking water equipment on your premises – from an indoor tap to an outdoor sports bottle refill station – you have to inform your local water authority. And prove to them that the equipment complies with the 1999 regulations. Each authority has a slightly different policy and I’m not going to go into each of them here, but we’ll use Thames Water as an example:

  • WRAS approvedAll customers who occupy premises that are connected to a Thames Water supply have a legal duty to ensure that their water system meets the standards set out in The Regulations.
  • … inspections will identify plumbing arrangements which are in breach of the Regulations and it is important that these issues are solved.
  • Under some circumstances Water authorities may enter a property and resolve non-compliances or conduct disconnections they can recover reasonable costs from the owners after completing this action.
  • Failure to comply with the Regulations is a criminal offence. Any person or business convicted can be fined up to £1,000 per non-compliance.

As you see, this is not something that you can ignore.

Now, there are other ways to ensure that your equipment meets regulations. You could have them independently tested, for example. But WRAS-approved products are available ‘straight off the shelf’. Job done.

At MIW Water Cooler Experts, we take pride in working with WRAS products, because it means that we’re always doing the best we can by our customers. If you’d like more information, please feel free to get in touch:  01207 572 000.