Draft policy on the Regulation of the Plumbing Sector in Trinidad and Tobago - MPU March 2012
Draft National Plumbing
Policy of Trinidad and Tobago
MINISTRY OF PUBLIC UTILITIES
ECONOMIC RESEARCH POLICY AND PLANNING DIVISION
2 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
Ministry of Public Utilities
Discussion Paper for the development of a
Draft National Plumbing Policy of Trinidad and Tobago
Trinidad and Tobago is a rapidly developing country, whose construction industry has
encountered a significant increase in the number of building projects over the last two decades.
In an environment such as this, proper plumbing practices are vital for the health and well-
being of the population. Plumbing systems are aimed at collecting, transporting and distributing
water to individuals in a community, and the removal of liquid waste. Faulty plumbing systems
can result in among other things, the contamination of water sources, accidental cross-
connection of drinking-water supply and waste removal systems and chemical contamination
from corrosion of pipes and other fittings. It is important that such risks are minimised by
ensuring that systems are correctly designed, constructed and assembled using the appropriate
techniques and materials. It is also critical that plumbers are well trained in the design,
installation and maintenance of such plumbing systems and that they adhere to principles of
A review of the plumbing sector of Trinidad and Tobago shows that it is faced with a number of
issues which include the following:
I. Inconsistent plumbing practices and poor quality workmanship- The country has been
plagued with repeated occurrences of poor plumbing installations which have become
increasingly evident at large housing developments. There have been many complaints of
poor workmanship and a lack of adherence to a set standard. This continued disregard for
the regulatory guidance laid out in the National Plumbing Code (1965) and the lack of
supervision of plumbing installations can have dire effects on the public health, living
standards and the environment in Trinidad and Tobago.
II. Inconsistent training and qualification- The training of plumbers is carried out by both the
Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education. This
training is certified by the National Training Agency (NTA) which falls under the purview of
the Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education. While recent attempts have
been made to apply a consistent system of classification to the skill level of plumbing
practitioners, such efforts are still within the early stages of development. These attempts
have been challenged by the difficulty in making comparative assessments between
plumbers who are formally trained with varying levels of experience against those who are
3 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
experienced but lack formal training. It should be noted that in recent years, much of the
certification of plumbers has taken place at the lower levels within the sector. These levels
of qualification are on par with those of apprentices in developed countries. There have also
been complaints by some plumbing practitioners that the majority of graduates of the
current training programmes lack the necessary experience to be referred to as “plumbers”
and it is necessary to apply a clear system of categorizing plumbers, which is on par with
III. Lack of a National Licensing Mechanism- Currently, there is no nationally recognized
system that identifies an individual who is qualified to be a “plumber”. As such, the option is
open to anyone to undertake plumbing work without the relevant training or experience.
This has left the general public susceptible to various unskilled persons putting themselves
out for hire.
IV. Unregulated Industry and Inadequate Legislation - Currently the plumbing industry is
unregulated, with the Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) being the only body that
undertakes the licensing of a small section of plumbing works. Under WASA’s legislation
(WASA Act- Chapter 54:40), the Authority currently bears responsibility for the licensing of
Licensed Sanitary Constructors(LSCs) who are plumbers who undertake work on sewer lines
and related works. This legislation does not extend to plumbing in its entirety. Additionally,
WASA has encountered difficulties with the issuance of licences to these Sanitary
Constructors due to the inconsistencies in the experience and qualification levels of
Also, a National Plumbing Code of Trinidad and Tobago exists, which was established in
1965. It is considered outdated by the plumbing stakeholders. This Plumbing Code is
currently under review by WASA and other plumbing stakeholders such as the Bureau of
Standards and the Plumbers Association of Trinidad and Tobago.
There is the need for specific plumbing legislation and plumbing regulations to be
developed to address all aspects of the sector and to guide the activities of the industry on a
V. Institutional Framework - A single body needs to be established to facilitate the
coordinated development of the sector and for greater collaborations between the principal
actors. Such a body would be responsible for making the necessary linkages between the
training institutions and the actual practitioners in the field. As such, it was recognised that
at present there is a dire need for not only the licensing of persons who engage in plumbing
4 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
works but also the regulation of the entire industry. Further action is required to ensure
that the training of plumbing practitioners is guided by a clear plumbing policy and aligned
with relevant plumbing regulations.
In recognition of the need to ensure that proper plumbing practices are adhered to, for the
protection of the health and well-being of the population in Trinidad and Tobago, the
Government has found it necessary to undertake the regulation of the plumbing industry. It is
therefore imperative that a regulatory framework be established to guide the activities of the
plumbing sector. The National Plumbing Policy of Trinidad and Tobago is aimed at reducing
health and safety risks by ensuring that systems are correctly designed, constructed and
assembled using the appropriate techniques and materials. It was recognised that it is also
critical that plumbers are well trained in the design, installation and maintenance of such
plumbing systems and that they adhere to a code of best practice.
The policy framework for the regulation of the plumbing industry includes aspects such as
certification, licensing, monitoring and quality assurances for plumbing work, services and
products. In Trinidad and Tobago, this had only been partially addressed by the Water and
Sewerage Authority’s licensing of Licensed Sanitary Constructors (LSC).
The overall regulation of the plumbing industry would be aimed at ensuring that plumbing risks
are prevented or minimised through education and training and the adoption of quality
assurance systems such as codes of best practice. Many countries have enforced these codes of
best practice by establishing laws and regulations that stipulate specific standards. Trinidad and
Tobago needs to accelerate its move in this direction in its pursuit of the preservation of a
healthy and safe environment. It is evident, therefore, that the protection of public interest
justifies some degree of regulation over the plumbing sector.
The World Health Organization (WHO) made the following statement in its article “Sanitation
Challenge: Turning Commitment into Reality”
―Creating the right types of legislation/regulations in support of extending sanitation
and hygiene services and improving their quality is essential in the process of achieving
targets and maintaining achievements. Legislation/regulations should create conditions
that favour innovation (both in technology and in financing mechanisms); define
cooperation between relevant stakeholders, including the private sector; allocate
financial resources to capacity building and training, and to monitoring, implementation
5 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
and maintenance. Consistent standards for sanitation and hygiene must be set across all
other relevant sectors (for example, education, housing construction, workplace safety).
Enforcement of enacted legislation/regulations is essential. Effective
legislation/regulations will have both incentives for complying and sanctions for not
complying with the requirements. (World Health Organization 2004)
3.0 Policy Goal and Objectives
3.1 The goal of a National Plumbing Policy is to provide a cohesive approach to the sustainable
development of the Plumbing industry through the involvement of all relevant stakeholders.
3.2 The primary objective of the National Plumbing Policy therefore is to provide a regulatory
framework aimed at the following areas:
3.2.1 Protection of Public Health and Safety
a. Preservation of the health and safety of the national community
b. Protection of the environment
c. Minimization of damage to plumbing and drainage infrastructure
a. Issuing of licenses
b. Consistent rules and regulations applied across the plumbing sector
c. Promoting competitive practices
d. Protection of consumers right to good service
e. Settling disputes
a. Devising technical standards
b. Determining approval types and certification
c. Coordinating with other industry stakeholders
a. Monitoring of current developments in the plumbing sector
b. Monitoring related developments in the national community which may impact the
a. Anticipating and planning for future developments
6 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
3.2.5 External Relations
a. Ensuring mechanisms are implemented for providing information on the plumbing
sector to the general public
4.0 Key Stakeholders of the Plumbing Sector
The provision of a policy framework for the Plumbing sector is a multi-faceted, and involves the
active input from the following stakeholders:
The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA)
The Plumbers Association of Trinidad and Tobago (TPATT) - The Plumbers Association of
Trinidad and Tobago has a membership of 80 plumbers and has indicated their support
for increased regulation of the plumbing sector.
Ministry of Science, Technology and Tertiary Education (MSTTE) – the Ministry
responsible for the assessment and certification of technical/vocational training through
their agency, The National Training Agency (NTA)
The Trinidad and Tobago Bureau of Standards (TTBS)
The Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI)
Ministry of Works and Infrastructure (MOWI)
The Ministry of Planning and the Economy
The Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD)
The University of the West Indies (UWI)
The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT)
Other practitioners such as the Board of Engineering (BoE) and the Association of
Professional Engineers (APETT)
The citizens of Trinidad and Tobago
5.0 Scope of the National Plumbing Policy
The National Plumbing Policy of Trinidad and Tobago will relate to those areas of plumbing
concerned with water and wastewater installation. As such, the policy will govern plumbing as
it pertains to the actual installation, repair, alteration, disconnection or maintenance of pipes or
equipment to a water supply system or storm water systems or to receive and convey wastewater
to sanitary drains within a building or within the legal boundaries of a single premises.
7 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
6.0 Issues and Policy Implementation
A regulatory framework for plumbing covers various aspects of plumbing regulation. The
National Plumbing Policy seeks to address these key areas.
6.1 Certification of Plumbing
6.1.1 The NTA certified training programmes to be aligned to the revised Plumbing Code in
order to ensure that plumbing practitioners are equally subject to the same guidelines.
6.1.2 The level of license granted to plumbers will be determined by the certification level
granted by the NTA.
6.2 Issuing of Licences
6.2.1 The Government will establish a body to undertake the registration and granting of
licences to all plumbers who offer their services to the general public for residential,
commercial and industrial work.
6.2.2 Such licences will be granted according to the individual’s qualification level and the fees
for the licensing of plumbers will be according to services offered, that is, residential
commercial and industrial service.
6.2.3 A national registry must be maintained of all individuals to whom licences have been
granted and this information made accessible to the general public.
6.3 Consumer Protection
6.3.1 The Government will also ensure that the regulatory body established will have the
authority and capacity to investigate complaints and reports of poor service provided by
any Licensed Plumber.
6.3.2 The regulations will outline the various sanctions which can be applied to any plumber
found in breach of these regulations.
6.3.3 Efforts will be made to provide the general public with information on plumbing
practices, service standards and other relevant information as necessary.
6.3.4 The body set up to regulate the plumbing sector will act as a watchdog for the citizens’
right to good services.
6.4 Plumbing Regulations
6.4.1 The National Plumbing Code of Trinidad and Tobago must be relevant to the needs of
the current environment and should be utilized as a basis for regulating the plumbing
8 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
6.4.2 An established body will ensure increased accountability and regulation of the plumbing
sector through consistent interpretation and well coordinated implementation of
plumbing regulations and direct supervision of plumbing sector.
6.4.3 Recommendations for improvements and/or changes in plumbing operations, standards
and regulations will be made as required.
6.5 On-site inspections
6.5.1 In order to ensure compliance with plumbing regulations and the National Plumbing
Code, the government will seek to ensure that on-site inspections are conducted by the
body established to do so.
6.6 Pricing and Cost Recovery
6.6.1 A cost recovery system should be implemented to ensure that reasonable fees are
charged for the granting of licences and the inspection of plumbing installations. Such
fees should aim at covering the majority of the administrative and operational costs of
providing this service and for the gradual achievement of financial self sufficiency.
6.6.2 Fees for the licensing of plumbers offering professional services should be set according
to the level of service offered. The levels being: (a) Residential; (b) Commercial and (c)
7.0 Instruments for Policy Implementation
7.1 Legal Instruments
7.1.1 The Government of Trinidad and Tobago will establish the relevant legal instruments
within which the National Plumbing Policy and the regulating body established to
oversee the plumbing sector must operate. The main legal instrument will be the
National Plumbing Act along with the necessary amendments to the Water and
Currently the WASA Act only addresses the regulation of Licensed Sanitary Constructors
that is, persons engaged in sewer works.
7.2 Institutional Framework
7.2.1 Trinidad and Tobago is currently in need of a body that is dedicated to the regulation of all
areas of the plumbing sector.
9 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
7.2.2 The Water and Sewerage Authority is the key agency with responsibility for the provision
of water and wastewater services. However, it does not routinely engage in monitoring
or regulating plumbing work beyond the point of connection with its water and
wastewater distribution network.
7.2.3 The responsibility for the implementation of the National Plumbing Policy and the overall
regulation of the plumbing sector would best be served by an independent body.
7.3 Inter-Ministerial Coordination and Collaboration
7.3.1 Effective regulation of the plumbing sector requires a co-ordinated and collaborative
approach by the relevant plumbing stakeholders. Various measures and strategies must
be undertaken to ensure that this collaboration and co-ordination is carried out in an
7.3.2 Attempts will be made, through collaborative planning and information sharing, to
ensure that the National Plumbing Policy is in alignment with policy guidelines being
implemented for other related areas as they are developed such as the Building Codes
and Renewable Energy initiatives.
7.4 Contribution to National Sustainability
7.4.1 Given the critical importance of plumbing to the preservation of a safe water supply and
the prevention of cross-contamination of water and wastewater infrastructure, it is
critical that Trinidad and Tobago engage in safe plumbing practices in order to protect
the health and well-being of the population.
7.5 Public Education
7.5.1 The Government will launch a broad programme for educating the general public and
key stakeholders about the basic standards and key concepts pertinent to ensuring
appropriate plumbing installations.
8.0 Monitoring and Review of Policy Implementation
8.1.1 This policy must be monitored on an ongoing basis to ensure that it meets the objectives
for which it was created and has the desired results. As such, the Government will
ensure that such monitoring will include:
Identification of key performance indicators
10 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
Setting of performance targets over specified periods
Establishing an implementation plan for undertaking such monitoring.
8.1.2 It is critical that the Policy remains current and applicable to the changing environment.
It must also be in concurrence with other policies on which it impacts or is impacted. To
ensure that this is achieved, it is intended that the policy be reviewed and updated
every five (5) years through the:
Publication of notices announcing the Government’s intention to undertake policy
revision and requesting comments from interested parties on the intended revisions
Providing information on how to access the current policy and carrying out consultations
where possible to facilitate public participation
Updating the policy based on comments received and submitting this draft revised
policy for public comment
Finalising revised policy for use by general public.
9.0 Required Actions for Successful Policy Implementation
9.1 In order to ensure that the National Plumbing policy is fully implemented and adhered
to by all stakeholders, the government will undertake the following:
Establish a body dedicated to the overall regulation of the plumbing sector
Prioritize the development of the necessary plumbing legislation required for governing
the plumbing sector.
Identify the parameters and areas of responsibility of the various bodies related to the
Ensure that all required regulations are in place and that the Plumbing Code of 1965 is
updated and widely circulated to all stakeholders.
Develop appropriate regulations and operational policies inclusive of penalties prior to
the establishment of this body with mandatory time periods included for the review of
the existing policies.
Implement a cost recovery system to allow for fees and annual subscriptions to be set at
a rate that will cover the majority of the administrative and operational costs of the
Convene regular stakeholder consultations to discuss the status of the plumbing sector,
provide recommendations for its improvement and to monitor the implementation of
the National Plumbing Policy and other related regulatory guidelines.
11 Discussion Paper on the Draft National Plumbing Policy, ERPPD March 22, 2012
1. Cayman Water Authority;2011
2. International Code Council; The International Plumbing Code: A Guide for Use and
3. Judd, Blane and Prospal, Richard; World Plumbing Council; Environmental Aspects of
4. MidCoast County Council; MidCoast Water Response to: Discussion Paper: Reforming
Arrangements for Regulating Plumbing and drainage in the NSW; December 2008
5. National Plumbing Regulators Forum; ‘Barriers to National Consistency’ Industry
Forum, Australia; March 2008
6. New South Wales Government; Reforming Arrangements for Regulating Plumbing and
Drainage in New South Wales; May 2009
8. The Water And Sewerage Authority (WASA) of Trinidad and Tobago; the National
9. The Laws of Trinidad and Tobago
10. World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with World Plumbing Council; Health
Aspects of Plumbing; 2006
11. World Health Organization (WHO); Sanitation Challenge: Turning Commitment into