(FAQ16) How can I apply to use a product for research purposes?


Paragraph (4)(c) provides for authorisation by the Secretary of State of the use of unapproved substances or products, in accordance with a previously notified programme of testing or research. The length of the period of testing or research is subject to the 12 month limit, or other notified period, set out in paragraph (7) of Regulation 31.

If a water company wishes to put a product in contact with water intended for Regulation 4(1) purposes (e.g. drinking, washing, cooking etc) for the purpose of either testing or research, they must give not less than 3 months notice of their intention to the Inspectorate prior to introducing – Regulation 31(4)(c).

Regulation 31(8) permits the Secretary of State, by notice, to prohibit the continued use of the product.

The full Regulations are available on the DWI website. Comparable requirements are given in the other relevant national regulations.

Information required in the notice

When giving notice to the Secretary of State under Regulation 31(4)(c) of intention to use a substance or product for the purposes of testing or research, water companies must provide the information set out in the following paragraphs to the DWI.

Justification for testing or research

Water companies, manufacturers or suppliers may wish to carry out tests to establish the performance of an unapproved substance or product. The justification should provide details of the product(s) to be tested and a statement explaining why a period of unapproved use is required.

Scale of experimental plant

The water company must describe the location and specification for the water treatment equipment that will be used. Testing and research should not normally be carried out at full scale. It may be appropriate to restrict the programme to designated units in a full-scale plant, or to a pilot plant. It should be possible quickly to shut down the experimental plant or to divert the treated water to waste. It follows therefore that the quantity of water produced in the experimental plant should not be critical to the overall demand in the area.

Risk assessment and impact on water quality

Use of the product under Regulation 31(4)(c) does not exempt the company from any other obligations that it has with regard to regulations, in particular the requirement that the company supplies water that is wholesome and fit for human consumption. The company is expected risk assess the final water quality for any risks which the introduction of the product may create and be able to enact any necessary contingency measures to keep water supplies safe and wholesome.

Monitoring programme and reporting

The water company must provide a detailed monitoring programme related to the risks identified with clearly stated objectives covering a finite period. The monitoring programme must incorporate measurements of appropriate sensitivity and frequency that would permit the detection of an adverse effect on water quality arising from the use of the substance or product that is being tested. The monitoring programme must include unambiguous statements of what constitutes an adverse effect and describe the action that should be taken in the event of detection of any adverse effect. A log must be kept of the operation of the experimental plant.

Management of testing and research

Water companies must provide full details of the arrangements for management responsibility of the programme of testing and research.


The DWI will acknowledge receipt of the notice provided by the water company and confirm acceptance of the notice. The DWI will not issue a “temporary” approval for the product.

Continued Monitoring

Any issues arising from use of a product should be notified to the Inspectorate under the Water Industry (Suppliers’ Information) Direction in the usual way.

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