UK water regulations

Under the Water Industry Acts of 1989 and 1991, the UK government has power to regulate the substances, products and processes used in the treatment and provision of public water supplies. Regulation 25 concerns the introduction of substances and products for use. It regulates that part of the water supply system, which runs from extraction from a primary source, such as a river, to the stopcock, which links the public supply system to each domestic or industrial user. Stainless steel products had already been in use by water companies in regulated applications prior to July 1989. They were therefore exempt from the need to apply for approval on the grounds of traditional use under a concession contained in Regulation 25(1)c. However, notice was given in 1997 that concessions under 25(1)c would be withdrawn, and consequently, from October 2000, no new work could be contracted using stainless steel products without prior approval under Regulation 25(1)a.
There is one relevant exception. Products that would otherwise be covered by the regulations, but are deemed to have a sufficiently small surface area in contact with drinking water, as to have no adverse effect on the quality, fall within the scope of Regulation 25(1)b, and are exempt from the need for approval. These include such items as valves, pipe fittings, including couplings and gaskets, ladders and pumping installations.
The British Stainless Steel Association (BSSA), in conjunction with the Nickel Development Institute (NiDI), the Steel Construction Institute (SCI), AvestaPolarit and other interested parties, undertook the task of applying to the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) for approval of stainless steel as a suitable material suitable for use under Regulation 25(1)a.
The DWI’s Committee on Products and Processes has now considered the OGCP and test results and formally agreed that the use of products made from an approved list of stainless steel grades is unobjectionable on health grounds. The DWI has therefore recommended approval for stainless steel products conforming to those grades tested and used in accordance with Operational Guidelines and Code of Practice (OGCP) for Stainless Steel Products in Drinking Water Supply, published by SCI in January 2002.
It is important to note that the legislation does not allow the generic approval of a material, such as stainless steel. However, the way is now open for companies to obtain approval for eligible stainless steel products under their own specific name or identifier; and for water industry companies and contractors to specify such approved products.

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