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Drinking water without EQM mark not to be allowed in UAE from October 1 20014

The UAE’s mandatory technical regulation for drinking water will take effect on October 1, Dr Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, and Chairman of Emirates Standardization Metrology Authority (Esma), announced on Sunday.

The minister made it clear that any drinking water products which don't comply with the UAE Scheme for Drinking Water, approved by the UAE cabinet, and don't carry the Emirates Quality Mark (conformity mark recognised by Esma) will not be allowed into the market.

The new mechanism, he emphasized, is part of Esma's strategy to regulate and monitor products which have direct impact on health, safety of the consumer and the environment and to promote knowledge-based, competitive economy, sustainable environment and integrated infrastructure.

The minister explained that Esma board  had decided to grant an additional six months till October instead of April 1  for the enforcement of the system in response to requests by water producers and suppliers to allow them distribute their stock of drinking water and other imported products which don't carry the Emirates Quality Mark (EQM) in local market.

The new comprehensive control system aims to improve water standards in terms of quality by unifying control mechanisms on drinking water which include production, processing, packaging and distribution.

Bin Fahad told a forum, organised by Esma for 150 producers, suppliers and bottlers of drinking water and associated products, the grace period was granted to avoid any shortage of bottled water supply in the local market and spare these companies any financial loss.

''The UAE Scheme for Drinking Water, prepared by Esma in partnership with other public and private stakeholders on par with international best practices, defines the technical standard requirements for drinking water, and effective control and monitoring mechanisms regarding production, import and distribution processes,'' the minister said.

The minister noted that 154 companies had registered with the system (98 in 2013 and 56 since the beginning of 2014) of which 93 were local companies accounting for 60.4 per cent of the total companies.

He added that eight out of 14 companies applied for the Emirates Quality Mark had been awarded the registration certificates. The remaining 6 were on the final processes of auditing and conformity assessment.