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Water regulations main requirements

This section explains the aims of the Water Supply Regulations 1999. These water regulation main requirements are for the design, installation and maintenance of plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances in domestic and commercial properties in England and Wales.

A Southern Water employee showing a tap aerator to a customer in a bathroom

What are the Water Regulations' main requirements and aims?

The three main requirements of the Water Regulations are:

  • Plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances must be installed and maintained to comply with the regulations
  • Contamination of drinking water must be prevented
  • Advance notice of plumbing installation work must be given
A close-up of a person holding a shower head and hose attachment

Why are the regulations in place?

The Water Regulations are in place to prevent:

  • The inefficient use or waste of water
  • Contamination of drinking water supplies
  • Incorrect measurement of water supplied.

Frequently asked questions 

Here are answers to some commonly asked questions about the Water Supply Regulations. 

Owners and occupiers of premises and anyone who installs plumbing systems or water fittings have a legal duty to ensure that their water systems comply with the Regulations.

Poorly installed plumbing that causes contamination of the water supply could lead to prosecution and fines. Also, the potentially considerable cost of restoring the water system so that it is fit for drinking purposes.

We are responsible for the enforcement of the Regulations in our water supply area. We'll conduct random inspections of new and existing installations to check that the regulations are being applied.

It is a criminal offence to knowingly breach the Regulations and offenders may face prosecution.

Complying with the Regulations prevents drinking water from becoming contaminated with water designed for other uses such as central heating, washing machines, dishwashers and industrial processes.

Where a breach of the Regulations is found, we require it to be remedied as soon as practicable, subject to the severity of risk. If it poses a risk to health, the supply to the premises may be disconnected immediately.