Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

Who Wants Legislation? A Letter from the UK

By Jonny Seccombe

For those of you concernedly watching as the wave of anti-salinity legislation appears to be engulfing one community after another, what would you think of legislation that actually makes POE water treatment mandatory in every dwelling? That is exactly what has happened in the UK!

Our government carried out an extensive revision of the building regulations with particular emphasis on improving the energy efficiency of homes. After very lengthy lobbying they finally took on board the fact that lime scale has a significant impact in reducing the efficiency of water heaters—and they decided to do something about it.

The aptly named Domestic Heating Compliance Guide now contains a short, rather poorly worded paragraph that reads: “Where the mains water hardness exceeds 200 parts per million, provisions (sic) should be made to treat the feed water to water heaters… to reduce the rate of accumulation of lime scale”.

Now, before you reach over to grab your local lobbyist, think for a moment about the implications of complying with this legislation. Is every household going to be able to afford a softener? Is EVERY homeowner going to go out willingly and spend a few hundred dollars on something he has to plumb into the water supply just to, “reduce the rate of accumulation of lime scale”?

The UK market
“How on Earth did you get this legislation passed in the UK?” I hear you ask. In the UK, for every home softener sold, there are about 100 physical water conditioners (PWC) installed. This is a market that really started developing 20 years ago and it is now reinforced with legislation. Prices for these products range up from a low of $50. Many of them don’t require any plumbing; some of them don’t even work very well, but they are all accessible to every homeowner—and they comply with the legislation.

Now, we’ve no exact figures for softener penetration in hard water areas in the US but it seems doubtful they exceed 15 percent of homeowners nationally. That means that 85 percent of homeowners are a potential market for a PWC at a price that they can afford and are prepared to pay. What has really surprised the UK softener suppliers is the growth in their market as a result of the increased penetration of PWCs. It is difficult to find a dedicated softener supplier who has a polite thing to say about any PWC, but they have certainly done a lot to raise the awareness of the importance of treating hard water amongst the general population; inevitably, the top end of the market has grown larger and moved towards the softener.

About the author
Jonny Seccombe is Managing Director of Lifescience Products Ltd. in the UK. Contact him via telephone +44 (0)1608 811707; fax +44 (0)1608 819060 or via email sales@waterking.co.uk

About the company
Lifescience Products Ltd. has been supplying water treatment products from their base in Oxfordshire, England for more than 10 years. Their mission is to provide high-quality products with customer service to match. The firm’s range of water treatment products covers the latest technology for water conditioners, UV sterilizers, backwash filters and water filters. Lifescience Products is a limited company registered in England and Wales. Registered number: 2829557, Registered office:Ranger’s Lodge, Cornbury Park, Oxon OX7 3HL; telephone: +44 (0)1608 811707; fax: +44 (0)1608 819060, website www.lifescience.co.uk. Additional information on this subject and PWC’s generally can be found on the web site www.lifescience.co.uk

 

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