The ABCB has decided to limit the allowable lead content in plumbing products which contain copper alloys and are intended for use in contact with drinking water. This decision is enabled by inclusion of lead free requirements at Clause A5G4 of the Plumbing Code of Australia 2022 (PCA). 

If a plumbing product is manufactured to meet those requirements it may be WaterMark certified as a lead free plumbing product. The term ‘lead free‘ is defined in PCA 2022 as ‘where a plumbing product or material in contact with drinking water has a weighted average lead content of not more than 0.25%’.

Lead has always been permitted in small proportions in the raw materials used to manufacture some plumbing products. Whilst those lead levels ensured compliance with the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines, the use of lead free products will contribute to improved public safety.

How does this impact plumbing practitioners?

The WaterMark Schedule of Products outlines all plumbing products which require WaterMark certification to be authorised for installation in a plumbing or drainage system. The Schedule also identifies which products must comply with the lead free requirements of PCA 2022.

From 1 May 2023 a 3-year transition period commenced for identified products to be manufactured to meet the lead free requirements. During this transition period products may be supplied to the market with the Lead Free WaterMark trademark, however, it will not be mandatory to use the lead free versions of identified products until 1 May 2026. This means plumbing practitioners may continue to install existing products, as well as those manufactured as lead free, providing the products have current WaterMark certification.

However, from 1 May 2026 only lead free versions of identified products will be authorised for use in plumbing systems used to convey drinking water. From this date plumbing practitioners will need to look for the Lead Free WaterMark trademark on a plumbing product to ensure the product being purchased or installed is authorised for use in contact with drinking water.

Where can I find more information?