What are the Water Fittings Regulations?

The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws play an important role in protecting public health, safeguarding water supplies and promoting the efficient use of water within customers’ premises across the UK.

They set legal requirements for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances. They have a specific purpose to prevent misuse, waste, undue consumption or erroneous measurement of water and, most importantly, to prevent contamination of drinking water.

Where do they apply?

These Regulations and Byelaws apply in all types of premises supplied, or to be supplied with water from a water undertaker (the legal term for a specific type of water supplier).

They apply from the point where water enters the property’s underground pipe (usually at the stop tap at the property boundary), to where the water is used in plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances.

However they do not apply in premises which have no provision of water from the public mains supply, not even a back-up supply, and rely solely on a private borehole or well supply.

Where can I get a copy of them or seek further advice?

Water law is one area that is the responsibility of national parliaments. This means there are separate regulations and byelaws applying in each country within the UK.

Regulations and Byelaws

Copies of the Water Fittings Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws including their schedules are available from Her Majesty’s Stationery Office (HMSO) part of The National Archives, and Scottish Water using the following links.

England and Wales - Statutory Instrument 1999 No. 1148 which has been amended under subsequent legislation.

S.I.1999 No. 1148 – The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999

Amended under the following legislation:

S.I.1999 No.1506 – The Water Supply (Water Fittings) (Amendment) Regulations 1999
S.I.2005 No. 2035 – The Water Act 2003 (Consequential and Supplementary Provisions) Regulations 2005
S.I.2013 No.1387 – The Construction Products Regulations 2013

Scotland

The Water Supply (Water Fittings) (Scotland) Byelaws 2014

Northern Ireland – Statuary Rules 2009 No.255

S.R. 2009 No.255 - The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2009

Guidance

The English Government (Defra) also published on the internet a guidance document relating to Schedules 1 and 2 of the regulations for use in England and Wales. However this guidance is recognised across the UK and is available using the following link.

Defra guidance to the regulations

The “Water Regulations Guide” includes the text of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999 and Scottish Water Byelaws 2000. It also includes detailed Water Industry guidance and interpretations. We also provide other publications, most of which are free to download. In addition we also provide an enquiry service for general queries on these regulations and byelaws, for further information or advice contact us.

Water Suppliers do not provide a design service for installations, but they will try to answer individual queries from customers, designers, builders and installers about the interpretation of the regulations or byelaws.

Are they retrospective?

No, provided that the plumbing system, water fitting or water-using appliance was lawfully installed under the previous Water Supply Byelaws. Where fittings were lawfully installed, the current water fittings regulations and byelaws cannot be used to require changes to be made.

However, if the water supplier considers that there is a significant risk of water being contaminated or wasted by these fittings (even if they complied with Water Supply Byelaws in force at the time they were installed) the water supplier can insist on improvements.

The legal provisions within the Water Industry Act 1991, Water (Scotland) Act 1980 or The Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006, allow water suppliers to require necessary improvements to be made.

Who has to comply with them?

A legal duty is placed on all users, owners or occupiers and anyone who installs plumbing systems or water fittings and water-using appliances to ensure they are installed and used in accordance with these regulations and byelaws.

Advanced notice must be given of proposed installations in specific cases, so architects, building developers and plumbers have to follow these regulations and byelaws on behalf of future owners or occupiers.

Here are some frequently asked questions about the regulations:

  • Q. IS THE WASTEWATER PIPEWORK COVERED BY THE WATER FITTINGS REGULATIONS AND SCOTTISH WATER BYELAWS?

    Q. IS THE WASTEWATER PIPEWORK COVERED BY THE WATER FITTINGS REGULATIONS AND SCOTTISH WATER BYELAWS?

    A. No. Wastewater pipes from sinks, baths, showers, washbasins, WCs and bidets fall under the jurisdiction of the Building Regulations.


  • Q. HOW DO THE WATER FITTINGS REGULATIONS AND BYELAWS AFFECT ME?

    Q. HOW DO THE WATER FITTINGS REGULATIONS AND BYELAWS AFFECT ME?

    A. Your plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances must be installed, maintained and used to comply with the Water Fittings Regulations or Scottish Water Byelaws.
    You must prevent contamination of drinking water.
    You must use water efficiently.
    You must give advanced notification of installation work, in specific circumstances.


  • Q. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ENFORCING THE WATER FITTINGS REGULATIONS AND BYELAWS?

    Q. WHO IS RESPONSIBLE FOR ENFORCING THE WATER FITTINGS REGULATIONS AND BYELAWS?

    A. Water Undertakers (the legal name for water suppliers) are duty bound to enforce the Water Fittings Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws within their appointed water supply areas.

    They will undertake inspections of new and existing installations to check that the regulations and byelaws are being met.


  • Q. WHAT ACTION COULD BE TAKEN WHERE PLUMBING WORK IS FOUND TO BE NON-COMPLIANT WITH THE WATER FITTINGS REGULATIONS OR BYELAWS?

    Q. WHAT ACTION COULD BE TAKEN WHERE PLUMBING WORK IS FOUND TO BE NON-COMPLIANT WITH THE WATER FITTINGS REGULATIONS OR BYELAWS?

    A. Where contraventions of the Water Fittings Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws are found, the water supplier will require them to be remedied as soon as practicable. Where breaches pose a risk to health or there is a significant waste of water, the water supply to the premises may be disconnected immediately to protect public health and prevent waste or damage to premises.

    It is a criminal offence to contravene the regulations or byelaws and offenders may face prosecution. Those found guilty will have a criminal record, be fined and may have to pay costs.


  • Q. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T AGREE WITH THE FINDINGS OF THE WATER COMPANY - CAN I APPEAL?

    Q. WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T AGREE WITH THE FINDINGS OF THE WATER COMPANY - CAN I APPEAL?

    A. The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws only allow for an arbitrator to be involved in two specific circumstances.

    1) Where a water supplier has unreasonably withheld their consent in regards to an advanced notice of proposed installation work under Regulation or Byelaw 5.

    2) Where a water supplier has unreasonably refused to apply for a relaxation to the regulator.

    However water suppliers normally have a policy to resolve disputes with customers. You should contact your water suppliers for details of their policy or procedure.


  • Q. WHAT RIGHTS OF ACCESS DO WATER SUPPLIERS HAVE IN CARRYING OUT ENFORCEMENT?

    Q. WHAT RIGHTS OF ACCESS DO WATER SUPPLIERS HAVE IN CARRYING OUT ENFORCEMENT?

    A. Only the ‘person designated in writing by a water undertaker (the legal name for water suppliers)’ are authorised to enter premises. 

    However this is only for very specific purposes and in relation to enforcing the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws, they are allowed as part of that work to carry out inspections, measurements or tests.

    However if you do not allow them to enter they can seek a Magistrate’s Warrant from the courts which will allow them to enter.