Skip to content
Secure Login

What We Do

The Standards Board’s role is to coordinate the UK water industry’s involvement, via BSI committee representation, in the promotion, development and review of British, European and international standards that affect the industry.  This is important to enable the industry to sustainably protect its service to customers and protect the environment.

Additionally, the Standards Board promotes, facilitates and coordinates the production of Water Industry Standards (WIS) and Industry Guidance Notes (IGN). This occurs when there is a clear industry need for such documents but where either, there is no applicable BS, EN or ISO standard, or where sectoral interpretation of such standards is warranted. The technical detail of WIS and IGN are produced by industry expert working groups, with the Standards Board managing the consultation (including with third parties), approval, publishing, maintenance and promotion of the documents.

Water Industry Specifications (WIS)

European and national standards will not normally be available in the case of newly developed products, but this is not to be seen as inhibiting the use of such products. To fill this gap, a series of tailor-made specifications is produced by the Water Industry. It is recognised that Water Industry Specifications (WIS) have a valuable role where national or European standards are not yet available. They should not be seen to be in competition with British or other national standards but as a precursor to the development of a national standard (BS) through BSi or a European standard (EN) through CEN

Information and Guidance Notes (IGN)

In addition to the need for technical specifications covering performance, testing and quality control procedures, there are occasions when the water industry as a whole wishes to provide guidance to the individual water and sewerage suppliers and their suppliers. Information and Guidance Notes (IGN) have been developed for this purpose.

Role of the Standards Board

The Board is the custodian of Water UK’s library of Water Industry Standards (WIS) and Information and Guidance Notes (IGN).

The Board’s principal role is to ensure that each document within that library remains current, reflects good practice and, where appropriate, integrates with national and/or EN standards. The development of BS or BS EN standards that encroach on areas covered by a WIS or IGN may necessitate the review and either revision or withdrawal of the latter.

Since new products are continually coming to market (in some cases displacing older ones) and good practice is continually evolving, the maintenance of WIS & IGN is a dynamic activity.

The Board therefore has to keep track not only of current standards but also those that have been modified or withdrawn and the dates and reasons for such. Despite being withdrawn such archived standard have residual value (e.g. when considering the basis for aged assets’ design criteria; or investigating possible reasons for asset failure or poor performance).

The population of Standards Representatives also changes over time based on standards’ development needs, and individuals’ expertise and availability. Another function of the Board is to identify, encourage and facilitate the maintenance of that population.

The Board also acts as the ‘gatekeeper’ for new or amended WIS and IGNs’ development. This involves reviewing & approving such proposals, encouraging stakeholders’ engagement in the drafting process & drafts’ progressive review. This process includes late stage public commenting on mature drafts before finalisation by the drafting committee for presentation to the Board for review, sign-off and publication.

On occasion a WIS and/or IGN can be recognised by an industry regulator as representing a required standard of good practice warranting independent performance certification. In such circumstances the Board is responsible for determining the means by which an independent certifier’s accreditation can be achieved. With such accreditation the organisation can then claim to be a ‘Water UK Nominated Certifying Body’ for performance against a specific WIS and/or IGN (or parts thereof).

Innovation enquiries

The Board is wholly supportive of innovation that benefits the water industry and its stakeholders. However it is unable to support individuals or organisations seeking recognition, testing, evaluation, endorsement or adoption of concepts, techniques, systems or products on their route to market. Rather, the Board’s role is to sponsor and facilitate development of WIS and IGN that encourage confident specification and take up of concepts, techniques, systems or products that have already achieved industry recognition but currently lack sufficiently widespread adoption as to warrant coverage in British, European or International Standards. Note that a WIS can be written around a single available product without naming it.

More appropriate routes for innovators’ UK enquiries include:

  • Regulatory initiatives here
  • Water companies’ combined initiatives here
  • Individual water companies’ initiatives (example) here
  • UK Water Industry Research here
  • University Research Departments (example) here

The Board does not recommend any of the above routes. Many equally valid alternatives exist to the examples quoted.