Bathroom and kitchen tapware in Australia and New Zealand is required to be certified under the Watermark™ Standard for Australia and New Zealand. It confirms the product complies with the plumbing code of Australia and New Zealand and relevant standards. Without this certification the tapware product cannot be legally installed into an Australian or New Zealand property. There are many examples of imported tapware products for sale in Australia and New Zealand that have not been complied under Watermark - it is up to the purchaser and the installing plumber to ensure they are installing a compliant product. So what is Watermark?
I often hear from customers that have found the kitchen mixer of their dreams on a European website, or a new designer shower set in the US for a cheaper price than in Australia. However, they may be wasting their money, as the product is almost certain not going to have the very specific Australian and NewZealand compliance licences and markings to allow it to be installed locally. Make sure you understand the Watermark™ standard and what to look for.
WaterMark™ is a product quality certification mark owned by Standards Australia. It is provided by independent certifying authorities. It is designed to ensure compliance that the product has been tested for product quality, including health and safety, and warranted that it is fit for purpose.
Watermark tapware must undergo rigorous testing that it meets a number of quality and health and safety requirements:
- For brass taps, a higher quality “DR Brass” must be used. DR Brass is slightly heavier and it has a very high tolerance when water is caustic.
- The product is made of non-toxic materials
- The product is not able to return used water back into the town water supply or water resources
- The product can tolerate the typically higher mains water pressure in Australia
A typical kitchen tap or bathroom mixer is made up of a number of components and many of them also need to have Watermark certification for the product as a whole to be certified. The input hoses, any internal hoses, and the mixer cartridge all need Watermark certification.
WaterMark™ certification is mandatory for products to be legally installed in accordance with state and territory plumbing regulations. Products required to be certified are listed in the Plumbing Code of Australia and AS3500.000.
In addition to Watermark, there is another enforced Government standard for water flow - the Wels scheme. Wels is a star rating on certain plumbing fixtures that show its measured water flow rate. The objective of Wels is to ensure consumers are informed about the water usage rates of various plumbing products.
A licenced Watermark product should have the Watermark logo on the packaging, and the Watermark logo and licence number must also be printed on the product. If these logos are not apparent then it is wise to check with the supplier as to the Watermark status.
It is important to note that there are sellers in the market claiming their products are watermark compliant, but unless they bear the watermark logo and have a valid watermark license number etched into the tapware they are not compliant.
There is no doubt that having a very specific standard for the Australian and New Zealand markets makes the product cost higher and limits the range available. Some experts argue that Australia would benefit from adopting the widely used equivalent European standard as this would immediately increase the range of tapware available to Australia and reduce costs - without a reduction in any quality or safety issues.