How businesses can keep themselves compliant with water regulations

Water regulations play a significant role in keeping employees, customers and the general public safe on a business’ premises. The precedents set by these regulations need to be followed by every UK business with physical property, regardless of their size or the location of their main office.

As experts in the field, Total Water Solutions have provided this brief explanation of how businesses can keep themselves compliant with water regulations:

Fittings and contamination

Water-related fixtures and fittings, such as sinks and pipes, need to be watertight and fully serviced. This means that open leaks, exposed rust and blockages need to be fixed before the system is installed: this prevents water contamination, which can often lead to sickness and a lack of available fresh water.

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These regulations apply to any property with a connection to the mains water supply, regardless of whether it’s the main water source or a backup to a private supply. Regular maintenance and fresh fittings will often be enough to keep water free from contamination.

Trade effluent discharges

Businesses that discharge water as a result of industrial or sanitary activities need consent from their water provider. Trade effluent covers a large amount of non-domestic chemicals including pool chlorine, cleaning fluids and oil: these chemicals aren’t treated equally and may have enforced limits to protect sewage pipes and water treatment facilities.

Trade effluent is counted as an additional cost on a business’ regular water bill, varying with the volume and type of discharged water. Without consent, it’s technically legal to create trade effluent but illegal to dispose of it.

Stop valves

Water supplies that span multiple floors or buildings should be fitted with multiple stop valves. At least one valve should cut off the entire supply to the premises, whereas the others should be placed in locations that allow partial shutoffs without interrupting the supply elsewhere. These valves should be accessible by the residents or users of the respective floors, either inside or outside of the premises’ walls.

Servicing valves are occasionally a legal requirement of appliances that draw water from the supply pipes, although some appliances (such as taps) will always be exempt. These valves must be both accessible and only shut off specific appliances, rather than the entire room or floor, to aid repairs and general maintenance.

Warning pipes

All WC cisterns and tanks should connect to a WC warning pipe or warning device located in a visible, easily-accessible location. This can include warning pipes installed in the WC itself or into a connected flush pipe, as long as it can provide a sufficient pressure warning.

Damage and leak repairs

Underground leaks run the risk of water contamination, system damage, clean water shortages and damage to the surrounding land or properties. Leaks within the business’ property boundary are seen as the business’ responsibility under most circumstances.

Once discovered, either by the property owner or a third party, there is a compliance period of thirty days in which the responsible party must legally fix the leak: exceeding this period can lead to additional fees and an inability to claim leakage allowance. To ensure that leaks aren’t ignored, businesses should perform regular checks on their water pressure and volume, as well as checking their water bill against previous bills to find any unexpected usage increases.

If your house uses a meter, you might be able to claim leakage allowance from your water provider, but only if the leak wasn’t a result of your own actions (including workers or specialists you’ve hired). This allowance will cover the cost of the wasted water and, in some cases, the repair work.

Drinking water purity

Any business that provides drinking water to employees, residents or customers is required to keep it clean and wholesome, regardless of whether it’s consumed on the property or bottled and consumed elsewhere. The EU Drinking Water Directive dictates that drinking water must only contain necessary contaminants, such as small amounts of chlorine dioxide added as a Legionella management aid.

There are a variety of ways to purify contaminated drinking water, including filters and purification chemicals. However, traditional methods such as boiling can also be effective. Non-drinking water does not fall under these regulations and the business owner won’t be held responsible if an employee willingly consumes it.

Hot water storage

Businesses that store hot water (including drinking water) are legally required to be protected in the event of failure, with at least a ‘reasonable’ amount of safety measures present. This could include vents, pressure regulators, emergency drainage pipes or temperature-based emergency shutoffs.

The storage container or vessel itself must be constructed to withstand its own temperature and weight over a long period of time, as well as measures that prevent the water within from reaching 101˚C or above under any circumstances. If a business doesn’t meet these standards, it should design or purchase an alternative storage system immediately.

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