While the Covid-19 pandemic has understandably taken the lion’s share of priorities when it comes to the development and management of properties, keeping the water supply safe continues to be a top priority.

Plumber testing valves

Source: Shutterstock/ Virrage Images

Anyone with a responsibility for a commercial building should ensure their plumbing installers and testers have undertaken the latest training to ensure they are aware of relevant regulations, guidance and installation methods.

Type BA backflow protection devices, commonly known as reduced pressure zone (RPZ) valves, play an important role in protecting people from the risk of contamination from plumbing systems.

When backflow occurs, it can pull contaminates into the plumbing system and make the water supply unsafe, especially if that water is used for drinking, washing or food production purposes. This can pose a serious risk to the health of anyone using the building. In the event of backflow, there could be serious consequences and firms risk prosecution and fines.

RPZ valves must be tested annually by an approved tester to show they are working. They protect against contamination from fluids, which represent a significant health hazard because of the concentration of toxic substances.

After a recent review, it was concluded that an updated approved installation method (AIM) should be published for RPZ valves to ensure that commissioning and testing is carried out consistently to a suitable standard. This marked the start of a 12-month transition period.

We are fast approaching the end of this period, and while it is primarily an issue for contractors registered as RPZ testers, it is equally important for property developers and managers to be aware of. If this training is not completed before the end of 2020, testers risk losing their approved status.

If your tester is no longer registered as approved, they will not be recognised by water companies after 7 January 2021. You may lose a tester altogether if they are no longer approved and unable to submit test reports to water companies, as you may be relying on it as a basic contract requirement, which is often the case for some organisations.

It is important to check that your usual contractors have registered for the training. The Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS) is offering this training free of charge to all current registered RPZ testers.

If the training is not completed ahead of the deadline, the contractor will have to sit a longer, more costly course or risk being unapproved.

Paul Millard is technical manager for WRAS