Clarification about notification requirements

When installing or replacing parts of plumbing systems, to protect drinking water supplies installers must comply with the requirements of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Byelaws in Scotland (collectively referred to as the Regulations). 

In many situations, advanced notification must be made to the local water supplier. This helps installers ensure the proposed work meets legal requirements and in general applies to non-household installations.There are however a few exceptions such as large baths, shower-type bidets, shallow or overly deep laid water pipes to name a few, which would apply to all property types.

A change of use notification is also required for a ‘material change of use’ of the premises. Most people will associate this with a physical change in the use of the property. Commonly this could be changing a commercial property into a home; or a home into offices. The Regulations also require the notification of the buildings intended use and details of any process fluids which may be used with wholesome water. Specifically, fluids which if mixed with water could create a fluid classified as representing a high risk of contamination for example installation of a greywater or rainwater harvesting system.

Recently a legal opinion clarified that the requirement to notify extended to changes within any premises where high risk fluids, are to be stored or used. This advice is published in technical interpretation N05 by WRAS (click here to view).

Proposing to install rainwater harvesting or greywater systems in any property supplied with mains water is classed as a ‘material change of use’ and is notifiable. This is because the fluids in these systems are likely to contain pathogenic organisms. For example, rainwater collected from a roof is likely to contain bird faeces. The installation of a rainwater harvesting system has always been notifiable throughout the UK, this requirement has now been clearly marked out in technical interpretation N05 for England and Wales. In Scotland and Northern Ireland this was always clearly listed among notifiable works in the Regulations.

Advanced notification will assist users to get installations right first time. Water suppliers often find these systems are installed incorrectly and can put consumers at unnecessary risk.

There is a range of information about this and other topics in the technical ‘Interpretations and Advice’ section of the WRAS website at For more information on prior notification in your area, contact the local water supplier. Contact details for water companies can be found here.

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WRAS news - Spring 2016