Legionella and the Water Supply (Water fittings) Regulations 1999

The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and Water Supply (Water Fittings) (Scotland) Byelaws, play an important role in protecting public health, safeguarding water supplies and promoting the efficient use of water within customers’ premises across the UK.

They set legal requirements for the design, installation, operation and maintenance of plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances. They have a specific purpose to prevent misuse, waste, undue consumption or erroneous measurement of water and, most importantly, to prevent contamination of drinking water.

BUT… did you know they are not retrospective. In other words provided that the plumbing system, water fitting or water-using appliance was lawfully installed under the previous Water Supply Byelaws. Where fittings were lawfully installed, the current water fittings regulations and byelaws cannot be used to require changes to be made.

However, if the water supplier considers that there is a significant risk of water being contaminated or wasted by these fittings (even if they complied with Water Supply Byelaws in force at the time they were installed) the water supplier can insist on improvements.

The reason this is important is that prior to 1999 it was not a requirement that the cistern should be covered with a “rigid, close fitting and securely fixed cover which is not airtight but which excludes light and insects from the cistern.

Consequently if you are a risk assessor reading this, or if you are a Duty holder reading your risk assessment bear this in mind if the building was built prior to 1999. The only caveat is that if it is considered that the water is at significant risk then this can be overridden.

If you would like training on Legionella and the issues it raises like this then contact Collaton Consultancy Limited via general@collatonconsultancy.com. More information on our services can be found at http://www.collatonconsultancy.com



  1. These Regulations and Byelaws apply in all types of premises supplied, or to be supplied with water by a water company (the legal term for a water company is water undertaker).

    They apply from the point where water enters the property’s underground pipe (usually at the stop tap at the property boundary), to where the water is used in plumbing systems, water fittings and water-using appliances.

    These regulations do not apply where a property uses a private water supply and does not have a supply of water from a water company. If a top up supply, from a water company, is in place full regulations/byelaws would apply


    A. Water Undertakers (the legal name for water suppliers) are duty bound to enforce the Water Fittings Regulations and Scottish Water Byelaws within their appointed water supply areas.

    They will undertake inspections of new and existing installations to check that the regulations and byelaws are being met.


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