Testing and certification of materials and products in contact with drinking water in Germany
Since 2012, the German Drinking Water Ordinance (TrinkwV), as last amended by Article 1 of the Ordinance of 3 January 2018, has regulated the possible uses of materials in contact with drinking water by means of the evaluation criteria prepared by the German Environment Agency in accordance with § 17.
At the same time, this ordinance refers to the code of practice for the use of products in drinking water issued by private regulators (DIN, DVGW, VDI, etc.).
The Drinking Water Ordinance regulates the use of materials in contact with drinking water. It is the national implementation of the European Drinking Water Directive.
(1) Installations for the abstraction, treatment or distribution of drinking water must be planned, built and operated at least according to the generally recognised codes of practice.
(2) Materials used for the construction or maintenance of installations that are used for the abstraction, treatment or distribution of drinking water and come into contact with drinking
water may not
1. directly or indirectly compromise the protection of human health provided for in this Ordinance,
2. adversely affect the odour or taste of the water or
3. leach substances into the drinking water at quantities larger than those inevitable when the generally recognised codes of practice are complied with.
The entrepreneur and other owner of installations for the abstraction, treatment or distribution of drinking water must ensure that only materials are used for construction or maintenance that comply with the requirements mentioned in sentence 1.
(3) The Federal Environmental Agency shall stipulate an assessment basis to provide the concrete details of the requirements pursuant to sentence 2 para 1. The assessment basis can include, specifically:
1. Test instructions with test parameters, test criteria and methodological requirements to assess the hygienic suitability of the starting materials pursuant to number 2, the materials pursuant to number 3 and the materials in products made thereof.
2. Positive lists of the starting materials that are hygienically suited for the production of materials, including restrictions on the use of the starting materials,
3. Positive lists of materials that have been shown in tests to be hygienically suited for coming into contact with drinking water, including restrictions on the use of these materials in
certain products or with certain drinking waters.
The Federal Environmental Agency shall decide for which groups of materials it will stipulate an assessment basis. Once it has stipulated an assessment basis for a group of materials, it
will be binding after a period of two years following its publication. If the assessment basis contains positive lists pursuant to sentence 2 no. 2 or no. 3, only starting materials or materials that are included in the positive lists may be used for the construction or maintenance of installations pursuant to para 2.
(4) The assessment basis pursuant to para 3 sentence 2 no. 1 shall be stipulated and updated by the Federal Environmental Agency ex officio. The assessment basis pursuant to
para 3 sentence 2 nos 2 and 3 shall be stipulated or updated by the Federal Environmental Agency on request. (...)
The Federal Environmental Agency shall publish the assessment basis in the Federal Gazette and on the internet. The Federal Environmental Agency shall specify the details of the procedure in rules of procedure.
(5) Products and procedures are assumed to comply with the requirements of paras 1 to 3 if this was confirmed by means of a certificate issued by a certifier accredited for the drinking water sector.
Relevance for product manufacturers
Due to the requirements placed on materials, the Drinking Water Ordinance is therefore of particular importance to product manufacturers.
They must ensure that their products do not release elevated concentrations of substances in contact with drinking water when used as intended. The simplest way to document compliance with the generally recognised codes of practice and the use of approved substances and materials is to obtain confirmation by means of a certificate from a certifier accredited for the drinking water sector (e.g. DVGW, KIWA, TÜV etc.).
These certificates should include a full inspection, i.e. inspection of the materials in accordance with the evaluation criteria and mechanical testing in accordance with the generally recognised codes of practice for the product.
Since it is prohibited for a manufacturer to launch products on the market after two years which do not meet the legally binding requirements of the legislator, suppliers and the sanitation, heating and air-conditioning specialist companies, for example, can use products which are certified by a certifier accredited for the drinking water sector without further proof of manufacturer.
If no certificate from an accredited certifier is available, the user should obtain confirmation from the respective product manufacturer that the product in question meets the requirements as described in the evaluation criteria published by the German Environment Agency.
Participation in the revision of the technical rules for drinking water installations
Representatives of figawa cooperate very closely with the German Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt) in the preparation of the evaluation criteria. They are represented in the corresponding working groups of the UBA ("AK Metalle" and "KTW-AG").
The aim here is in particular to harmonise the national requirements with the European specifications drawn up in parallel, so that no "double testing" is necessary.