Historically, the regulation of plumbing and drainage in Australia has developed in close alignment with the State and Territory water and sewerage authorities, as they regulated for plumbing, drainage and water supply. Most regulations were based on British Standards requirements and developments in plumbing and drainage methods and technology.
Standards Australia, formerly the Standards Association of Australia, has for some time published technical standards relating to plumbing and drainage matters. In the late 1980s, several existing plumbing standards were consolidated and a set of updated Australian Standards was published in 1990 with the objective to provide: ‘acceptable technical standards for the design and installation of plumbing systems throughout Australia’. This is the AS 3500 series. Although designed as a national code, its adoption over the years following was disconnected and heavily varied.
The Plumbing Code of Australia 2004
A National Plumbing Regulators Forum (NPRF), with representatives from all States and Territories, was established in 2002 to develop a Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA). In 2004, the NPRF’s PCA 2004 was published. It was adopted in the ACT, Qld, SA, Tas and Vic.
The PCA 2004 was designed as a performance-based code, and was set out to be compatible in its structure and operation with the BCA. PCA 2004 referenced the 2003 AS/NZS 3500 – Plumbing and Drainage series of standards, along with other relevant standards, as a means of providing Deemed-to-Satisfy solutions to the Performance Requirements. The jurisdictions that did not adopt PCA 2004 continued to regulate the use of AS/NZS 3500 or used other independently developed regulation.
Inclusion of the PCA in the NCC
In 2010, the PCA was reviewed by an NPRF and ABCB working group as part of the development of the NCC, an initiative of the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) developed to incorporate all on-site construction requirements into a single code. PCA 2011 was released as Volume Three of the NCC by the ABCB on behalf of the Australian Government and each State and Territory Government.