Water Conditioning & Purification Magazine

2021 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC)

By Thomas P. Palkon

It may seem odd to be talking about a plumbing code that will be released in 2021. With the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) soon to be finalized during IAPMO’s 2017 annual conference in Alaska this September, however, it is time to begin work on revisions for the 2021 code. The call for proposals for the 2021 UPC ends on March 16, 2018. As presented during the WQA annual trade show, the 2015 (and the soon to be released 2018) version lacks detailed language and requirements for water treatment equipment. Current code language for that equipment can be found in Section 611.0 (see Table 611.4). Stakeholders committed to improving the water treatment industry are drafting proposed language for inclusion in the Drinking Water Treatment Units sections of the 2021 UPC. The primary focus of the revisions will be to include a new ASSE product standard for commercial water treatment equipment, cross-connection control requirements, sizing of equipment and professional qualification of installers.

During the upcoming ASSE International annual conference in November, there will be an ASSE 1087 working-group meeting (the standard covers requirements for commercial water treatment products). During the meeting, members will have an opportunity to discuss the draft standard and propose modifications to the language. (Companies that are interested in participating in working group activities should contact Conrad Jahrling for an application.)

The scope of this standard includes any commercial water treatment device or component, as well as POU/POE products that are used in a building to improve the quality of the water. The standard specifically covers water treatment products that are connected to the building plumbing system. Similar to other ASSE standards, 1087 will include minimum performance tests that focus on public health and product safety, such as:

During the upcoming conference, ASSE also plans to have a committee meeting for the ASSE 22000 Water Treatment Equipment Personnel Certification program. With stories of poor water quality making headlines across the country and increasing consumer demand for water treatment systems, the need for qualified, knowledgeable professionals to install and maintain these systems has never been higher. Since there are no established qualification standards or third-party certifications in the plumbing industry for water treatment equipment installers, some of these devices are being installed improperly. Plumbers may lack the necessary knowledge to properly set up water treatment equipment and water treatment dealers may lack the necessary knowledge to properly size and plumb water treatment systems.

The goal of the ASSE 22000 program is to offer an industry-composed standard to safely and correctly install and maintain water treatment equipment. The program will be developed by both water treatment and plumbing professionals along with an industry-developed certification program to provide water treatment installers with the necessary skills and code and technology competencies to meet that goal. The result will be properly trained professionals, properly operating water treatment equipment and safer, healthier and happier water consumers.


  • Create a nationally recognized, ANSI-accredited, professional qualification standard (ASSE Series 22000, Professional Qualifications Standard for Water Treatment Equipment Personnel).
  • Create a nationally recognized, third-party professional certification program for water treatment equipment personnel that can be easily adopted by regulatory bodies (ASSE 22000 Water Treatment Equipment Personnel Certification).
  • Open up new opportunities for training providers to offer water treatment equipment installation and maintenance courses for third-party ASSE 22000 certification.
  • Develop instructional objectives that meet ASSE 22000 requirements for training water treatment installer and maintenance professionals.


  • Properly installed and maintained water treatment equipment will provide safer and healthier water to consumers.
  • The plumbing industry and water treatment dealers will have a third-party certification program for ensuring qualifications.
  • ASSE 22000-certified professionals will have the necessary skills and competencies, which will be maintained through recertification requirements.


  • The series will be created by a working group consisting of both water treatment professionals and plumbing industry professionals.
  • It will focus on core competencies needed for proper installation and maintenance of water treatment equipment.
  • Comprehensive training courses will be conducted by training providers independent of ASSE.
  • Certified individuals and approved training providers will be listed on ASSE’s website.

Regulatory acceptance

  • ASSE 22000 certification will provide regulators who are considering new regulatory requirements for water treatment equipment installation with a third-party certification option.
  • Authorities having jurisdiction that operate specialty license programs for water treatment equipment installation will have the ability to use ASSE 22000 certification as an alternative to specialty licenses.
  • Model plumbing codes can adopt ASSE Series 22000, Professional Qualifications Standard for Water Treatment Equipment Personnel and ASSE 22000 Water Treatment Equipment Personnel Certification.

ASSE International professional qualifications standards are developed through true industry consensus. This means that experts from all segments of the plumbing, mechanical and water treatment industries gather to determine the minimum performance requirements for professionals. ASSE standards are developed and revised under the ANSI-accredited standards development process and certification programs limit acceptance to qualified individuals who meet prerequisite requirements decided by industry consensus. After in-depth training to industry leading ANSI-designated ASSE standards, only those who meet the stringent course objectives and demonstrate their knowledge and skills become ASSE certified. There are currently more than 15,000 ASSE-certified professionals spanning 49 states in the backflow program alone. Property owners, employers and authorities having jurisdiction have confidence knowing that ASSE-certified professionals are experienced, educated, competent and qualified.

About the authors
Thomas P. 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 product certification services on the water treatment industry. Prior to IAPMO R&T, Palkon worked for the Water Quality Association from 1997-2014. Most recently, he was named Executive Director of the ASSE International Chapter of IAPMO, LLC and will ensure that all of ASSE International’s activities are carried out within the IAPMO Group’s vision, mission and philosophy.

Tina Donda, Vice President of IAPMO R&T’s Water Systems program, is responsible for daily operations of IAPMO R&T’s product certification program for water treatment products. She previously spent 14 years with the Water Quality Association in a similar role. Donda’s extensive involvement in the certification arena has provided her with the knowledge to assist companies with their needs to obtain product certification, whether for existing or new standards.

About the agency
ASSE International dates back to January 29, 1906, when 29 plumbing inspectors from across the country gathered in Washington, DC, for the “purpose of forming an association of plumbing inspectors and sanitary engineers to be the source from which rules and regulations could be developed for the advancement of sanitary science, in the interest of public health.” The aims and purposes proclaimed more than 110 years ago by ASSE’s founding members continue to guide the organization’s activities and programs. Today, ASSE International is an ANSI-accredited standards developer and product certification body comprised of members representing all disciplines of the plumbing, mechanical and water treatment industries. ASSE’s product performance standards, professional qualifications standards, professional certification and product listing programs aim to improve the performance and safety of plumbing and mechanical systems. Water quality issues continue to surface around the county and the aging water infrastructure in the US continues to increase the demand for residential and commercial water treatment equipment. The IAPMO Group and ASSE International are committed to work with the water treatment industry to advocate solutions for the increasing list of water problems businesses and consumers are facing.

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