Australian Watermark Product Certification
By Thomas Palkon and Adam Wegmann
Although Australia does not have a large population, it is a good market for drinking water treatment products. Understanding the product certification requirements, though, can be confusing. This article is a summary of the process, which should offer more insight and understanding.
The Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) requires that certain plumbing and drainage materials and products are certified in accordance with the WaterMark Certification Scheme (WMCS) and subsequently listed on the WaterMark Product Database (WMPD). The WMCS is a mandatory certification scheme in Australia with water filters and water treatment devices requiring Level 1 WaterMark certification as detailed in Table A2.1 of the current PCA. In accordance with G1.4 of the PCA, a material or product is not authorized for installation if it is not marked in accordance with the WMCS and also appears on the WMPD, with the water regulators in each state/territory monitoring these installations within their controlling jurisdiction.
The PCA forms part of the National Construction Code, which is produced and maintained by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) on behalf of the Australian federal government and all state and territory governments. The PCA is given legal effect by enabling legislation in each of the nine Australian states/territories, which empowers the regulation of certain aspects of plumbing and drainage installations. The WaterMark Scheme ensures that plumbing and drainage materials and products are fit for purpose and that their use in a plumbing or drainage installation is sustainable and does not create significant risks or any likely outcome of:
- Personal illness, loss, injury or death
- Environmental degradation
- Contamination of the water resource
- Adverse impact on infrastructure (private and public)
- Contamination of the water supply
In order to achieve Watermark certification, the product must:
- Be tested by a recognized testing laboratory
- Comply with an approved specification (either a relevant existing standard or an approved WaterMark technical specification)
- Be manufactured in accordance with an approved quality system and
- Carry a warranty
Materials and products complying fully with the applicable requirements of the WMCS are then eligible to be certified by IAPMO R&T Oceana or other accredited certification bodies in Australia. Certified materials and products are identified by the WaterMark trademark, which must be displayed on the product upon the granting of a WaterMark Certificate of Conformity. In the US, companies typically use the certification body’s mark or logo on products that are tested and certified. In Australia, regardless of the certification body used, companies are required to use the Watermark on certified products.
Applying the WaterMark to the product provides evidence that it is:
- manufactured under a nationally recognized scheme and certified by a Conformity Assessment Body
- supplied and warranted by the manufacturer as complying with the appropriate standard
- easily recognized by the regulator, tradesmen, distributors and retailers as being certified.
The WMCS identifies two risk-based levels of certification:
1. WaterMark Level 1 (for higher-risk products) is an ISO/IEC 17067 System 5 product certification scheme. This requires that products comply with the ABCB’s Procedures for Certification of Plumbing and Drainage Products as specified in the PCA and are certified in accordance with the principles of ISO/IEC 17065: 2012. It also involves design evaluation and independent testing to determine product compliance with the relevant standard identified as applicable in the WMCS. The certification also requires an assessment and ongoing surveillance of the production processes or quality system, including inspection or testing of samples of products.
2. WaterMark Level 2 (for lower risk products) is an ISO17067 System 1b product certification scheme. This requires that products comply with the ABCB’s Procedures for Certification of Plumbing and Drainage Products as specified in the PCA and are certified in accordance with the principles of ISO/IEC 17065: 2012. It is commonly referred to as Type Test certification and requires design evaluation and independent testing to determine product compliance with the relevant standard identified as applicable in the WMCS . The certification does not include an assessment and ongoing surveillance of the production processes or the quality system in place. Certification System 1b consists of testing product samples before a certificate of conformity is issued.
WaterMark certification of water filters and water treatment devices can be undertaken against a couple of different Australian standards with the defining decision being whether the manufacturer wants to make a performance claim for the filtration device. ATS 5200.103 is the applicable specification against which certification is granted in the case where a manufacturer does not want to state the performance claims of their product. This specification essentially assesses the structural integrity and design requirements of a water filter so it can be classified as fit for installation. The product material, end connections, pressure and temperature limitations and marking/product documentation are all assessed through this process, in addition to a pre-certification and ongoing annual auditing of the manufacturing site. Should a manufacturer wish to state the performance claims of their product, AS/NZS 3497 is the appropriate standard against which certification is granted, and these are the same as detailed for ATS 5200.103; however, the specific performance reduction claims can be made in accordance with AS/NZS 4348 or similar internationally recognized standards.
Synergies exist within the Australian market for North American manufacturers wanting WaterMark certification. AS/NZS 3497 is a rare example of an Australian standard that specifically permits the recognition of test results for products that have already been tested to the NSF International suite of standards. Examples of such recognition extend to products manufactured to comply with NSF/ANSI 42, NSF/ANSI 44, NSF/ANSI 53, NSF/ANSI 55, NSF/ANSI 58 and NSF/ANSI 62. IAPMO R&T Oceana or other accredited certification bodies in Australia can advise any potential clients on the validity of existing test reports on a case-by-case basis.
About the authors
Thomas Palkon, Senior Vice President, IAPMO R&T–Water Systems, is responsible for IAPMO R&T’s product certification program of water treatment products. His technical expertise, laboratory experience and product certification knowledge in the water treatment industry has allowed IAPMO to focus its product certification services to the industry. Prior to IAPMO R&T Palkon worked for the Water Quality Association from 1997-2014.
Adam Wegmann, Client Manager, IAPMO R&T Oceana, has been involved with all aspects of WaterMark certification in Australia for several years. Previously, he was a National Association of Testing Authorities–Australia (NATA) Signatory responsible for the testing of plumbing products at a local ISO17025-accredited laboratory.
About the company
IAPMO R&T Oceana is a subsidiary of The IAPMO Group, an international plumbing industry-based association that certifies and tests plumbing products (such as water treatment devices) in addition to developing codes and standards that protect more than half the world’s population. IAPMO has been certifying plumbing products for over 85 years. Based in Melbourne Australia, IAPMO R&T Oceana offers WaterMark certification of plumbing and drainage materials and products to ensure they are fit for purpose and appropriately authorized for use in plumbing installations. To apply for WaterMark certification and trademark license, download IAPMO R&T Oceana’s application from the website: www.iapmooceana.org