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Tough new regulations to protect water quality and ensure that water is conserved in a way which encourages innovat...
Tough new regulations to protect water quality and ensure that water is conserved in a way which encourages innovation have been launched by environment minister Michael Meacher.

The regulations, which will cover domestic and commercial plumbing installations and fittings, will prevent the waste, undue consumption, misuse and contamination of water supplies in England and Wales. The regulations will come into force on 1 July 1999, and the Water Bylaws, which the regulations will replace, will be extended until 30 June 1999.

The main proposals are:

- the maximum flush volume of WCs will be reduced from 7.5 litres to 6 litres for new WC suites after a transition period of two years

- the immediate reintroduction of dual flush toilets

- a substantial reduction in the maximum volume of water used per cycle in washing machines and dishwashers

- more stringent notification procedures to alert the water company of the installation of high water-using products, such as high consuming power showers

Launching the government's proposals for consultation, environment minister Michael Meacher said:

'I want householders to think hard about every drop of water they waste. These draft Water Regulations will not only protect our water supplies from contamination and misuse, but they will also ensure the conservation of water in both the short and long term.

'They show that we can both regulate and encourage innovation, by taking a less prescriptive approach than was evident in the water byelaws. The sanitaryware industry will benefit from these developments, consumers will appreciate the savings they can give and the environment will gain from lower abstraction levels.

'The publishing of these draft regulations marks another landmark towards fulfilling the government's commitments in the Ten Point Plan, which we announced last year at the Water Summit.'


The draft regulations propose that the use of other types of flushing device, in addition to the traditional siphon will be allowed, on the

condition that they meet a high performance standard, which is currently being prepared. There will be a two year transition period before these changes will be enforced to allow manufacturers time to develop new products.

The regulations will come into force on 1 July 1999 to replace the Water Bylaws in England and Wales as part of the government's commitment to conserving water and protecting public water supplies.

The Byelaws will be extended until 30 June 1999 to allow time for plumbers and retailers to familiarise themselves with the new requirements and for manufacturers to develop new products.

The Regulations will not be retrospective and so will not apply to water fittings which have already been installed.

A full copy of the draft Water Regulations are available from DETR Free Literature, PO Box 236, Wetherby, West Yorkshire LS23 7NB.

A practical Guidance Document will be published in conjunction with the final Regulations.

The draft Regulationspublished today were the subject of an extensive round of consultation by the Water Regulations Advisory Committee (WRAC). The consultation exercise involved over 300 trade associations, companies, charities and individuals. WRAC have a duty to report on their recommendations for the technical requirements of the new Water Regulations.

The Water Regulations Advisory Committee's remit is 'To advise the secretary of state for the environment and the secretary of state for Wales on the requirements for plumbing installations and fittings to be included in the Water Regulations made under powers in section 74 of the Water Industry Act 1991 and on other technical matters connected with the regulations'. The committee is comprised of independent experts.

A new system of backflow prevention measures based on five fluid categories and categorisation of backflow prevention devices including formalising the use of Reduced Pressure Zone (RPZ) valves is proposed. Backflow is the movement of fluid against the normal direction of flow. If this involves fluid which has come into contact with substances which are potentially harmful, it may result in the contamination of the water supply, including drinking water. The five fluid categories are based on the Montout Method classifications, which are standard throughout Europe.

The Regulations will also propose more stringent notification procedures to alert a water company of the installation of high water-using products.

The draft regulations have also been submitted to the European Commission in order that member states are given the opportunity to comment.

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