Certification

By achieving AWS certification, you will show your stakeholders you recognise and work to secure the social, cultural, environmental and economic value of freshwater.

Find out about the certification process:

How long does it take?

The length of time it takes to achieve certification depends on a number of factors, including the location of the site, the site’s industry, the complexity of the site and catchment within which it is located, the availability of data, and the amount of experience the site and the organisation has with water stewardship and AWS.

If your site is one of the first in its industry or the wider organisation to apply for certification, the process could take longer, as knowledge, skills and data need to be gathered. Conversely, if your site is part of a large group of sites within an organisation all applying for AWS certification at the same time, the process may be much quicker, due to the availability of systems, knowledge, processes and structures to support your application.

For more information, please contact us.

How much does it cost?

We are committed to ensuring AWS certification is accessible and keeping costs reasonable. Costs will vary depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Location (country) of the site
  • Size of the site
  • Structure of the site (single site, multi-site, group)
  • Complexity of the site’s operations
  • Certification level to be attained (Core, Gold or Platinum)

To find out how much it will cost to certify your site or sites, please provide us with some more information by completing our application form. If you would prefer more information first, please get in touch to discuss your needs.

Before you begin

Register your site(s) with AWS

Before you can start the process of certification, you must first register your sites(s) with AWS. Typically, site owners register their site(s) for certification once they feel they are sufficiently advanced in their application of the AWS Standard and are close to scheduling an external audit.

The Guidance section accompanying the AWS Standard V2.0 provides advice on implementation, as does the AWS website. AWS Members also have access to a suite of tools to support implementation. When you feel ready to undergo certification, and once you have registered your site with AWS, you can then apply for certification:

AWS definition of a ‘site’

Your site is the physical area of land you own or manage where you carry out your main activities. This is usually an adjoining area of land but can be several separate but nearby areas (especially if in the same catchment). For a factory, the site is typically represented by the fenced area encompassing all its buildings, parking and storage areas. For farming, it encompasses the fields, buildings and storage areas. If you operate your own water sources and/or wastewater plant, these should be considered part of the site.

A new guidance note is available to complement the definition of a site as defined in the AWS Standard:

How to become certified:
your step-by-step guide

When your site is registered with AWS, you can begin the step-by-step process to become certified.

If you are new to AWS certification and would like a quotation, please complete the application form.

The information you provide allows us to understand the scope of the audit and calculate the costs for the certification fee.

If you would prefer more information first, please get in touch to discuss your needs.

If you are currently AWS certified, and would like to transfer your existing certificate to WSAS, please contact us or complete this transfer of certification form.

After signing the certification agreement and on payment of an up-front fee you will receive access to the AWS Audit Platform, our online audit and certification software.

We assign you an auditor (or audit team).

From this point, the auditor will take over the logistical arrangements for the audit. They will agree a date for the audit with you and let you know what to expect. They will also send you a list of documents that you’ll be requested to upload to the WSAS Audit Platform ready for the audit.

We make an announcement at least 30 days before the audit informing your stakeholders of your intention to pursue AWS certification for your site.

We will publish this on the AWS and WSAS websites. We’ll also ask you to share it on your electronic platforms and communicate it to your stakeholders.

Your auditor works with you to prepare a detailed audit plan.

This will include an opening meeting, site tour, document review, staff interviews, interviews with external stakeholders, and a closing meeting.

The preparation stage is now complete.

The audit takes place.

The auditor will record the audit results and upload the relevant evidence provided by you to the WSAS Audit Platform. Within two weeks of the audit being completed, the auditor will submit the draft audit report, including the findings, to WSAS.

We perform a technical review of the audit report and supporting evidence.

The technical reviewer may change, remove or raise new findings. Once the review is complete, the technical reviewer will submit the draft audit report, including the findings, to you through the WSAS Audit Platform.

You address any non-conformities through the WSAS Audit Platform.

You can provide any information and upload related documents to the technical reviewer through the online platform. When the technical reviewer considers that all major non-conformities have been resolved and all minor non-conformities have been satisfactorily addressed in a corrective action plan, they will finalise the audit report.

You will have 90 days to close any major non-conformities and until the following surveillance audit to satisfactorily address any minor non-conformities raised at the audit.

We make our certification decision.

If successful, you receive the final audit report and your AWS certificate demonstrating the achieved certification level: Core, Gold or Platinum and your site will be added to the list of certified sites on the AWS website.  

Maintaining Certification

Continual improvement is a core principle of the AWS Standard.

Your AWS certificate is valid for 3 years, subject to successful annual surveillance audits.

Surveillance audits are not a full audit but a focused process to verify that your site continues to conform with the AWS Standard.

You can expect the auditor (or audit team) to be the same as for the certification audit (circumstances allowing) and the surveillance audit will once again use the WSAS Audit Platform. The surveillance audit may be carried out remotely if certain conditions apply.

The surveillance audit process includes the same steps (5 to 9) as the certification audit process.

The auditor will investigate all water-related changes onsite and within the catchment since the previous audit.

As a minimum, the surveillance audits will review:

  • follow-up of all non-conformities raised in the previous audit
  • known areas of weakness / risk factors
  • progress on addressing shared water challenges
  • leadership commitment
  • implementation of the water stewardship plan and performance disclosure
  • documentation demonstrating legal, regulatory and rights compliance
  • water balance performance
  • water quality performance
  • performance against important water-related areas
  • participation in catchment governance
  • provision of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services
  • stakeholder commentary on performance
  • transparency of communications on water-related legal compliance
  • additional areas at the auditor’s discretion (after the 3-year period of the certificate, all requirements will be evaluated at least once)

If successful, you will receive the surveillance audit report and a letter confirming your site’s continued conformance with the AWS certification requirements.

After 3 years, you can apply for re-certification. This involves the same steps as for your initial certification.

During a surveillance audit or re-certification you can apply to upgrade.

The process is the same as for your initial certification, except the auditor will also ask for a response to the advanced indicators and score you against these. You will then be awarded your AWS certificate demonstrating the achieved certification level.

Core, Gold and Platinum

There are three levels of AWS Standard certification a site may achieve: Core, Gold and Platinum. All core criteria must be met as a minimum requirement for certification. Additional points are awarded for performance against the advanced criteria. The greater the number of points achieved, the higher the level of water stewardship performance and AWS certification.

Advanced criteria and higher-level certification were introduced to recognise that good water stewards seek continual improvement and commit to ongoing action to respond to the ever-evolving nature of the local water context. Gold and Platinum status are recognition of those sites that push their water stewardship performance to elite level.

The points required for each certification level are:

AWS Core: 0 to 39 points

AWS Gold: 40 to 79 points

AWS Platinum: 80 or more points

More than one site?

For the purposes of AWS certification audits, a single site is defined as a single location, including the building(s) and the property over which the client has control, which is using or managing water. In most cases it is a continuous area of land but it may also include physically separated but nearby areas.

If you have more than one site, you can apply for a multi-site or group site certification.

For the certification of a multi-site operation, we conduct one annual (certification or surveillance) audit at each of the sites, and issue one audit report and one certificate to cover all members of the multi-site.

For the certification of a group site operation, we conduct one annual (certification or surveillance) audit at a sample of member sites, and issue one audit report and one certificate to cover all members of the group.

AWS certification requirements

You can find more information in the AWS certification requirements on the AWS website.

Multi-Site

A multi-site operation is one where:

  • There are several sites within one catchment, which are homogeneous regarding their main production systems, and which operate under the umbrella of a single management system.

Group

A group site operation is one where:

  • There are several sites within one catchment, which are homogeneous regarding their main productions systems, and which operate under multiple management systems.
  • The sites enter into a Group Member Agreement with management to pursue AWS certification as a group site operation, and nominate an AWS Group Representative.
  • The group site operation has an Internal Control System (ICS) – a centralised structure comprising a set of policies, procedures and records for the purpose of ensuring and demonstrating continual compliance of all members of the group with the AWS Standard.

Gap analysis

If you would like to find out how your site is doing regarding compliance with the AWS Standard, we can carry out an optional gap analysis for you. We will ask you to upload your information and documents to the WSAS Audit Platform and assess these with the aim of identifying any gaps and opportunities for improvement.

You will receive a gap analysis report indicating compliance, partial compliance or non-compliance to the relevant indicator with summary comments on areas of improvement. This will give you a good understanding of what still needs to be done in preparation for the AWS certification.

Further information on gap analyses

For more information about the gap analysis and costs, please contact WSAS using the link below:

Why Get Certified?

Certification demonstrates that a site has successfully completed each of the steps in the AWS Standard.

FAQs

In this section, we answer the questions we are asked most frequently about WSAS and certification to the AWS Standard.

The length of time it takes to achieve certification depends on a number of factors, including the location of the site, the site’s industry, the complexity of the site and the catchment within which the site is located, the availability of data, and the amount of experience the site and the business has with water stewardship and AWS.

If your site is one of the first in its industry or the wider business to apply for certification, the process could take longer, as knowledge, skills and data need to be gathered. Conversely, if your site is part of a large group of sites within a business all applying for AWS certification at the same time, the process may be much quicker, due to the availability of systems, knowledge, processes and structures to support your application.

In order for us to understand the scope of the audit and determine the length of the audit process, please complete this application form.

We are committed to ensuring AWS certification is accessible and keeping costs reasonable. While costs vary depending on the scope of the audit, we aim to be increasingly consistent and transparent in our pricing structure.

When we receive your application form, we will prepare your quotation for the certification fee.

Your site is the physical area of land you own or manage where you carry out your main activities. This is usually an adjoining area of land but can be several separate but nearby areas (especially if in the same catchment). For a factory, the site is typically represented by the fenced area encompassing all its buildings, parking and storage areas. For farming, it encompasses the fields, buildings and storage areas. If you operate your own water sources and/or wastewater plant, these should be considered part of the site.

Download the AWS Standard V.2.0 and the complementary ‘Guidance Note: Definition of a Site’ for more information, available on the AWS website.

For the purposes of AWS assessment, the scope proposed for certification should be defined as a single site operation if it meets the following definition:
A single location, including the building(s) and the property over which the client has control, which is using or managing water.

A multi-site operation is one where:

  • There are several sites within one catchment, which are homogeneous regarding their main production systems, and which operate under the umbrella of a single management system.

A group site operation is one where:

  • There are several sites within one catchment, which are homogeneous regarding their main productions systems, and which operate under multiple management systems.
  • The sites enter into a Group Member Agreement with management to pursue AWS certification as a group site operation, and nominate an AWS Group Representative.
  • The group site operation has an Internal Control System (ICS) – a centralised structure comprising a set of policies, procedures and records for the purpose of ensuring and demonstrating continual compliance of all members of the group with the AWS Standard.

On the WSAS Audit Platform you will have the opportunity to prepare for the audit by working through the AWS Standard requirements and uploading the relevant documents to the platform. If you would like WSAS to do a gap analysis of the documents you have uploaded, this can be done as an optional service. Read more about the gap analysis.

If you are looking to transfer your site’s existing AWS certificate to WSAS, please contact us or complete this transfer of certification form.

We have developed an online reporting tool designed to enable consistent and efficient certification processes across all sites, the WSAS Audit Platform. Both clients and auditors alike will be provided with a login to the platform.

  • Auditors are able to view and access their audit orders for WSAS. They will access the audit checklist through this platform, and use it to perform the audit and generate the audit report. In addition, auditors can view and track audits in progress and those already completed.
  • Clients are able to upload all relevant documentation in preparation for the audit, or for an optional gap analysis. The WSAS Audit Platform allows the client access to view relevant information regarding their audits, find copies of their audit reports, certificates and certification contracts. Most importantly, the client is able to view and respond to findings from their audits all within the WSAS Audit Platform.

WSAS will use the platform to close out all findings and manage the technical review process. The primary function of the WSAS Audit Platform is to have complete consistency, traceability and transparency in the certification process from start to end.