Drinking Water Quality Failures Caused by Home Plumbing

More than a third of water quality failures in homes and businesses last year were caused by problems with internal plumbing, according to the Drinking Water Quality Regulator’s annual report.

While 99 per cent of tests in Scotland passed extensive water quality checks, 35 per cent of those which failed to meet the required standard were caused by poor plumbing practices.

Last year, 82 routine water samples contained bacteria or chemicals as well as other issues such as the taste and odour of the water.

Poor plumbing practices and unsuitable fittings are one of the main causes of drinking water quality being affected, after it has been transferred safely from water mains into people’s homes.

Poor tap hygiene was to blame in several cases, with the practice of draping dishcloths over the top of taps, or failing to remove limescale, allowing bacteria to ingress into the tap and potentially infiltrate the drinking water.

Now WaterSafe, the UK register for approved contractors working with drinking water, is urging homeowners and business managers to always employ someone who is officially approved to work on their plumbing system - to help keep their drinking water safe and wholesome.

WaterSafe approved plumbers and other specialist water contractors have specific training in the Water Supply (Fittings) Regulations, which are designed to protect water supplies from the risk of contamination.

Julie Spinks, Director at WaterSafe, explains: “Using a WaterSafe approved contractor for any work on your water supply pipe or internal plumbing is one of the easiest ways to help protect you and your family.

“Simple plumbing tasks can make a big difference, such as fitting appropriate backflow prevention devices on pipework to prevent water from toilets, white goods and garden hoses from mixing with your clean drinking water.

“Using a WaterSafe approved plumber gives customers reassurance that they are using a competent and qualified professional to maintain high-quality drinking water within their homes.”

Andrew Kennedy, Drinking Water Speciality at the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland, explains: “Overall, drinking water in Scotland is extremely high quality, meeting 99.2% compliance with the required standard.

“However, it’s important that we are not complacent as our annual report does highlight more than a third of water quality failures last year were caused by problems with internal plumbing or tap hygiene.

“We’d caution people to avoid unqualified installers who may inadvertently cause water supplies to become contaminated, and to instead choose a suitably qualified, approved, plumber.

“Consumers should use an installer who is approved through a national accreditation body for competent and qualified installers, such as WaterSafe.”

The annual water quality reports summarise the results of the thousands of water quality tests which Scottish Water carries out each year on the water they supply from water treatment works and clean water storage tanks, to customers’ own homes.

These tests are analysed at Scottish Water’s accredited laboratories, with the results reported to water watchdog, the Drinking Water Quality Regulator.

Customers can find their nearest WaterSafe-approved plumber, or other specialist contractor, by visiting watersafe.org.uk.

The annual Drinking Water Quality Report can be downloaded at dwqr.scot.

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