Adhering to the UK Water Regulations


What this Guide covers:

The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 for England and Wales, the Water Bylaws 2000, the Water Supply (Water Fittings) (Scotland) Bylaws 2014 and the Water Supply (Water Fittings Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009, are national requirements for the design, installation and maintenance of plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances. These regulations are legal requirements and are enforced by the local water supply companies. (Water Undertakers). Products and materials that are connected to the water supply are required to demonstrate compliance with the regulation. This guide is aimed at those responsible for complying with the regulation, e.g. building owners, material specifiers and product installers. It is the duty of the installer to ensure that all components of a water system meet the relevant regulation. It is not the product manufacturers obligation. In fact, it is not illegal to manufacture and sell non-compliant products. Therefore, the onus is on the parties above to ensure compliance. This guide explains the methods that can be used to ensure and demonstrate compliance.


All products and materials used in the UK on drinking water installations, need to demonstrate compliance with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999. The regulations apply in all premises where water is supplied by a water company, from the point that the water enters the property to the water being used through a plumbing system or water appliance. In particular Regulation 4 details the specific requirements of the components which form a water system. The Water fittings Regulations set out the design, maintenance and operating standards required of plumbing systems in all types of premises, to protect public health and safeguard supplies by preventing:

  • Waste
  • Misuse
  • Undue Consumption
  • Contamination

In order for the Water Undertakers to recognize products as meeting the standards, generally they must be tested under a compliant approval scheme and that compliance is recognized by marking on the product, in its documentation and packaging, or as a directory listing. Water Undertakers recognize and encourage suitable approval schemes and directories which validate materials or water fittings as complying with the Water Fittings Regulations when correctly installed and used. The traditional path to demonstrating this compliance has been the WRAS approval scheme, now administered by WRAS Approvals, but other options also exist.


‘WRAS is an advisory body established and funded by the Water Undertakers with the express purpose of promoting compliance with the water fittings regulations and maintains a directory of products which have been shown to comply with the Water Fittings Regulations.’ This scheme is a popular way to demonstrate product and material compliance and has a very high level of recognition with manufacturers, specifiers, installers etc. The purpose of WRAS is to contribute to the protection of public health by preventing contamination of public water supplies and encouraging the efficient use of water by promoting and facilitating compliance with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Byelaws.


‘The new NSF REG4 certification scheme for the UK market allows plumbing products and materials to show compliance with the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999.’ The scope of this certification scheme includes mechanical products in contact with drinking water, such as valves, backflow prevention devices, taps, mixers, shower heads, pipes and fittings, tanks, cisterns, water meters and many others. It also covers non-metallic products such as rubbers, coatings, cements, resins, and sealants.


‘The KIWA KUK Reg4 approval mark demonstrates full compliance with the UK Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, exactly like WRAS does, so can be universally accepted as equal to WRAS approval.’ KUK Reg4 is for manufacturers and distributors of sanitary and plumbing products and components intended for installation in the UK who require their products to be compliance with UK Water Regulation 4.

Additional Schemes

WRAS is one way of demonstrating compliance, however the minimum legal requirement is for products to be compliant with Water Regulation 4. Regulation 4 of the water supply (Water Fittings) regulations 1999 specifies requirements for water fittings installed within the water supply inside the boundary of a property. There are at least 2 schemes which also enable manufacturers to demonstrate compliance with Regulation 4, and they are administered by the test houses NSF and KIWA. These test houses are well known to manufacturers. They already undertake testing and administer the WRAS schemes. The schemes they offer are an additional way to demonstrate compliance to WRAS approval by ensuring products comply with the required UK water regulations, and they issue a certificate and online listing for manufacturers, specifiers, installers, and end users to be able to confirm the compliance of the products used.


Demonstration of compliance is made simpler if products can be specified as ‘Regulation 4 compliant’ and certification through any of the above schemes can be provided prior to purchase and install. Ensuring that tender specifications state ‘WRAS or equivalent approval’ will make it clear that only products offered that are of suitable compliance will be accepted. It also means a wider range of products may be offered, thereby giving a more competitive environment to the tender process.

Responsibility for compliance

Responsibility for compliance falls to all users, owners or occupiers and anyone who is installing plumbing equipment, water fittings and appliances. Water companies are duty bound to enforce the laws and inspect new or existing installations to ensure compliance. If non-compliant products are fitted then an offence is being committed and could result in prosecution.

Where you can get further help

Further information and assistance can be obtained from the scheme providers websites. Please click on the links below: