Activity List



1. Energy Saving Benefits of Water Softeners

An extensive study on the benefit of water softeners in prevention of scale in water heaters, conducted by the Batelle Institute on behalf of the WQA, was completed at the beginning of 2010.  The study clearly demonstrates a water softener to be one of the very best energy saving devices for the home with a typical effect on energy efficiency of 10% over 2 years, rising to in excess of 50% over a 15 year lifespan.  It also showed heavy, unsightly deposits on showerheads, dishwashers and washing machines.  A summary report was prepared and the full Battelle Study can be downloaded from the internet (http://www.flawatertreatment.com/odfs/Battelle_Final_Report.pdf).

A study in the UK in 2005 showed that as little as 9 grammes of scale deposits in a water heater reduced its efficiency by 5.6%.

2. Evaluation of the Effects of Water Hardness on Performance of Washing Machines and Dishwashers

Scientific Services Inc. carried out testing on behalf of the WQA, to compare the effects of hard and softened water on washing machine and dishwasher performance.  For both washing machine and dishwasher efficacy, the effect of using softened water showed substantial savings in detergent use and in the case of washing machines, the performance was better even at the low temperature setting, thereby demonstrating energy savings also. 

Click here to read the summary report.

Click here to read the final report.

3. Substantiation of Water Softener Claims

Water softeners provide substantial economical, environmental and lifestyle benefits and the supporting evidence for these claims is essential in communicating their promotion at goverment and regulatory level as well as for consumer and trade education.  A list of benefits and documented evidence has been prepared for this purpose (click here).

4. EU Standards and Regulations

The European Union comprises 27 Member States, most with different standards and regulations for consumer products.  This complication can be a serious barrier and cost to marketing of products in different Member States and so the EWTA has prepared a list of standards and regulations Click here.  The list is intended as a guide to assist the exporter in identifying the standards and regulations that are likely to be of relevance to water treatment products but, as national regulations are introduced, or amended frequently, it is a living document and current requirements should always be verified locally before proceeding with product testing and/or certification.  Feedback on its use is encouraged.

5. WHO Ca/Mg in drinking water

Since 2000, the WHO (World Health Organisation) has been investigating the evidence behind the hypothesis that minerals (specifically calcium and magnesium) in drinking water may be beneficial to cardiovascular disease (Click here for summary of the activity). The current position of the WHO is identified in the latest 2011 edition (fourth) of the WHO Guidelines for Drinking-water Quality which conclude:

“Although there is evidence from epidemiological studies for a protective effect of magnesium or hardness on cardiovascular mortality, the evidence is being debated and does not prove causality. Further studies are being conducted. There are insufficient data to suggest either minimum or maximum concentrations of minerals at this time, as adequate intake will depend on a range of other factors. Therefore, no guideline values are proposed.”

The position of the UKWTA (link to report) is that the evidence for a potential health benefit from water hardness is very weak and confined to magnesium content, for which the contribution to dietary intake would normally be trivial. The justification for any informative action is, at this stage, highly questionable and, when balanced against the benefits of soft (or softened) water, and against the benefits of optimum hydration, positive statement or action is inappropriate unless and until there are definitive conclusions from the recommended research.

6. Dispelling the Myths about Softened Water and Corrosion

Softened water is sometimes mistakenly associated with the potentially corrosive properties of naturally soft water.  BSi has recently conducted tests on behalf of UKWTA to compare corrosion in two simulated central heating systems, one filled with softened water and one with hard water.  After 6 months' operation, the conclusion of the report is that there is no significant difference between the corrosivity of hard water and water which is softened by base exchange.

EWTA explains the background to this misconception (click here for detailed position) and identifies the definitive positions of the industry regarding corrosion and softened water, referring to studies conducted by associations based in Europe and the USA.  

7. Eczema and Softened Water

Many new owners of domestic water softeners have reported a significant and often rapid improvement to the condition of eczema sufferers in their homes. Some GPs and dermatological consultants have also reported a substantial improvement to patients who have moved into areas of the country where the water supply is soft. This was borne out by the results of mapping studies that have shown a lower incidence of childhood eczema in areas supplied with naturally soft water. A recent water-softener intervention trial was carried out in the UK and did not show a benefit (www.swet-trial.co.uk). However, UKWTA members continue to receive consumer reports of improvement to eczema conditions when softeners are installed in their premises and a formal database of these reports is being prepared. Click here to read the UKWTA Position Paper

8. Spanish Standard UNE 149101 - Basic standards of aptitude of equipment used in the treatment of water

The National Standards Body for Spain, AENOR, officially approved the above standard on 3rd November 2010 having informed CEN of its intention to prepare the standard on 7th February 2008.  Click here for the full standard.

The EWTA considers that this publication represents a barrier to trade because its regulatory status is unclear, it conflicts with the Drinking Water Directive 98/83/EC by requiring compliance with Indicator Parameters which are not mandatory under that Directive, and by permitting some mandatory parametric values to be exceeded, and it fails to comply with the CEN standstill agreement by setting test methods which conflict with current standards produced by CEN/TC 164/WG 3. The matter is being raised with CEN through the standards bodies and discussions are ongoing with AENOR.

Click here to download the EWTA Position Paper.

9. Italian Decree 25/12

This decree came into force on 23 March 2012 and replaced DM443/1990 (click here for summary document) and is the culmination of previous contentious proposals.

The new decree sets out the national regulator requirements that a water treatment device must comply with and the performance, installation, maintenance and operational information that must be provided with the product for domestic and commercial applications.

Although the full implications are still evolving, reference is made to publication of 'internationally-recognised guidelines' regarding description of water treatment equipment.  These guidelines have now been published on the TRIS website.  The standstill date is 13 March 2013.  As identified in DM25, there are essentially a catalogue description of the various types of water treatment technology and their application.  Although the full implications are evolving, there does not appear to be any regulatory issues outside those already covered in the decree DM25.

10. Collective promotion and communication

Collective promotion has the goal of introducing and supporting companies’ marketing, impact and credibility.

By spreading messages on both a European and a national level, EWTA has an increased impact on national and international press and politicians.

11. Construction Products in Drinking Water

For many years now, there have been ongoing efforts by the EU Commission to harmonise the testing and certification of suitability of materials that are in contact with drinking water. International manufacturers and distributors of equipment used in drinking water supplies will be very aware of the diverse requirements of the different EU Member States and the consequent cost and hassle to international trade.  Click here to see the different requirements between the various countries

Efforts by the Commission to establish a single scheme (the European Acceptance Scheme, EAS) to cover all EU Member States was abandoned due to regulatory and resource deficiencies. But there are still efforts to try to establish some level of harmonisation of procedures and methodology within the framework of the Construction Products Directive and by less official collaboration between specific Member States (click here for more detail).  The aspiration of a single certification, as intended by the EAS, will not be forthcoming, but over several years, there should emerge some level of mutual acceptance of test methods, results and common procedures.

12. Meetings

a.  Metau Conference - Metals and Related Substances in Drinking Water

This conference was attended partly because it embraced health issues related to metals and minerals in drinking water and partly because it addressed corrosion problems - and specifically included domestic reverse osmosis.  A report was prepared and since the conference, there has been increasing activity towards the preparation of a booklet (monograph) on mineral balance in drinking water.  We are maintaining an interest to hopefully coordinate balanced input.

b.  WQA - Reports from Autumn and March Conferences

The United States Water Quality Association (WQA) meets twice a year - in March and September/October. Tony Frost is currently serving as International Director for the WQA and attends both meetings. A summary report is prepared to briefly include those issues that are perceived to be of relevance to the EU market. More detail is available on request.

Click below for reports from recent meetings.

September 2011

March 2012

September 2012

c.  CEN/TC164 Report

CEN (Comite Europeen de Normalisation) is the European standards body (www.cen.eu) and TC164 is the technical committee responsible for standards associated with water supply. The EWTA was accepted as an Observer Member in July 2010 and our nominated delegate attended the last TC164 meeting in December 2010. A report has been prepared; the main issue of concern at present is the developments relating to harmonisation of assessment for materials suitability.  Our representative, Tony Frost attends meetings on behalf of EWTA.

Click below for details of reports:

28/29 June 2011

1 February 2012

21 November 2012

31 May 2016

d.  CEN/TC164 WG13

WG13 is the Working Group within TC164 which deals with water conditioning (treatment) in buildings. Over the last 15 years it has prepared and published standards for water treatment products (softeners, filters, dosing gear, etc). Although compliance with the standards is mandatory at present and self-certification is accepted, members of CEN are obliged to adopt those standards or remove conflicting standards. WG14 meets once or twice a year and the main issue at present is the developments relating to harmonisation of assessment for materials suitability. Tony Frost attends as the BSI official delegate and produces a report.

21 March 2012

25 October 2012

26 September 2016

e.  Joint WQA/EWTA Meeting at Aquatech 2011

Joint WQA EWTA Meeting at Aquatech 2011

A joint meeting of the EWTA and the International (and International Standards and Regulations) Sections of the WQA, was held at Aquatech in Amsterdam on 1st November 2011.

The EWTA agenda comprised presentations by:

- the Chairman, Mike Pickavance, covering the Objectives, Structure and Current Activities of the EWTA

- the Physical Water Treatment Section Chairman, Dr Carl Jasper, on the Benefits of Softened Water

- the Water Softener Section Director, Luc Chantraine, on the issue of Corrosion and Softened Water

The WQA agendas comprised current progress in international cooperation, particularly in India and the Far East, and developments in relevant, national standards and regulations around the world. See the presentation here

Minutes from the WQA section of the meeting can be found here

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