Water efficiency labelling and standards scheme
Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) is an Australian scheme that helps businesses and consumers make decisions to reduce water consumption.
The scheme sets out water efficiency requirements for specific fixtures, fittings and appliances. Any product regulated under the scheme must be registered and labelled with water use information at the point of sale or supply. Labels include a simple system of one to six stars to show increasing water efficiency.
By 2030, the WELS scheme is expected to cut household utility bills by over $2 billion per year and save more than 200 billion litres of drinking water annually.
Manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, plumbers, builders, developers and real estate agents all have important obligations under the Water Efficiency Labelling and Standards (WELS) Act 2005. Complying with the scheme is mandatory and enforceable by law.
Products that must be registered under the WELS scheme include:
- flow controllers
- lavatory equipment (toilets) and urinal equipment
- washing machines; and
- dryer functions of combination washer-dryers, where water is used to dry a load.
To be registered, products must be tested by an accredited laboratory to assess their water efficiency. Products must also demonstrate safety and fitness for purpose by having WaterMark certification. The WaterMark Certification Scheme is a separate scheme that ensures plumbing materials and products are appropriately authorised for use in plumbing and drainage installations. For more information see Approved plumbing products.
Obligations and responsibilities
Anyone supplying or selling products regulated under the WELS scheme has a legal obligation to make sure the products are:
- registered with the WELS scheme
- labelled correctly with water efficiency information
These requirements apply to products supplied in a store or online; as part of new buildings, display suites and renovations; on inclusions lists; in print advertisements and catalogues; and on product packaging.
To check whether a product is registered, search the WELS product registration database. Use the model name or the WELS registration number if it has been provided
If a product is not listed on the database, or its registration has expired, it does not meet WELS requirements and cannot be supplied.
Products supplied must function as registered and must match the water efficiency performance detailed on the water rating label or text advice. For example, showers and taps that were tested and registered with a flow controller must be supplied with that flow controller installed.
Under WELS legislation, plumbers are responsible for ensuring that regulated products are WELS registered and labelled if they are supplying and installing the product.
WELS products must also be installed so that they function as registered, and match the water efficiency performance detailed on the water rating label. For example, showers and taps that were tested and registered with a flow controller must be supplied with that flow controller installed.
Builders, developers and real estate agents
If you are a builder, developer or real estate agent who supplies (or facilitates the supply of) regulated products as part of new buildings or units, you are also responsible for meeting WELS requirements. You must:
- confirm product registration before you supply, install or market regulated products; and
- display water rating information in accordance with Australian Standard 6400:2016.
The obligation applies to WELS products offered or displayed in display homes or contained in inclusions lists (online or in print).
Ensuring compliance with the WELS scheme
If you supply, sell or install products that are regulated under the WELS scheme, your work may be inspected. A WELS inspector may advise you about your obligations and actions you can take if your work does not comply with the scheme.
If you do not comply with your obligations, penalties can be imposed. These can include infringement notices, civil penalties or criminal prosecution.
To find out more about complying with the WELS scheme:
- visit the Australian Government’s Water Rating website
- email email@example.com or
- call the WELS team on 1800 218 478.