Julie Spinks, Managing Director at Water Regs UK, explains what the recent changes at WRAS mean for plumbers and installers. 

On 1 April 2021, the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) split into two separate businesses – Water Regs UK and Water Regulations Approval Scheme.

Prior to the changes, WRAS was one company with three different departments: WRAS Subscriptions, Water Industry Approved Plumber Scheme (WIAPS) and WRAS approvals. Following an internal review and a series of in-depth surveys, WRAS has relaunched as two new businesses, one called Water Regs UK and the other called Water Regulations Approval Scheme. The Water Industry Approved Plumber Scheme (WIAPS) is part of Water Regs UK company.

What do these changes mean to plumbers and installers?

Before the changes came into place, there was confusion among some stakeholders about the difference between the WRAS subscriptions services and WRAS approvals departments and what the two offered. Therefore, the main purpose of the launch of Water Regs UK and Water Regulations Approval Scheme was to help clarify the differences and outline the services offered by the two separate entities.

Water Regs UK will be focusing on protecting public health and encouraging water efficiency by promoting compliance with the Water Fitting Regulations and Byelaws. The information and guidance provided by Water Regs UK aims to help consumers, building owners, designers, installers and manufactures understand the water regulations.  

What’s more, Water Regs UK will also run the Water Industry Approved Plumber Scheme (WIAPS) which provides water industry backed accreditation to qualified installers on behalf of 14 water companies. WIAPS is also part of WaterSafe, a website that brings together all seven Approved Contractors Schemes across the UK so that consumers can search for an approved installer in one place.

So, as a plumber, if you’re looking to become approved you can head over to the WaterSafe website to find out more information about how to join one of the schemes, including WIAPS. Once you’ve completed one of the schemes, you will be listed on WaterSafe.org.uk.

Becoming an approved plumber means that you are recognised to work on all parts of a plumbing system, from the external supply pipe to the kitchen taps.

Meanwhile, the Water Regulations Approval Scheme is responsible for approving products and materials to enable organisations and individuals to demonstrate compliance with the Water Fittings Regulations. The approvals process also helps businesses and consumers choose compliant products that keep water safe. There is a new website too, where you can check if a product is approved by the Scheme.

Plumbers have a role to play in guiding their customers to use the right products. Products and fittings which have the ‘approved product’ status are of an appropriate quality and standard when installed correctly. The Water Regulations Approval Scheme is just one of the approval schemes available here in the UK. Others include kiwa.co.uk/waterproducts and nsf.org/certified-products-systems.

So, to summarise, Water Regs UK is responsible for promoting compliance with the regulations and collaborating with water companies to help protect public health and encourage water efficiency. It is also responsible for WIAPS which approves plumbers. Meanwhile, Water Regulations Approval Scheme is responsible for approving products and materials.

These changes have made it much clearer and simpler for plumbers to know who to go to with their questions and we’re sure this will be welcomed across the industry.

For further information, visit wrasapprovals.co.uk and waterregsuk.co.uk.