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Private water supplies

Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016

New regulations relating to drinking water supplied from wells, boreholes and other private water supplies, came into force on 27 June 2016.

The regulations require local authorities to routinely sample supplies, to investigate failures of microbiological or chemical parameters and to conduct risk assessments.

Risk assessments must be conducted within the first five years after the regulations come into force, except for supplies to 'single domestic properties'. Homeowners with a supply to a single domestic property may request a risk assessment from us, however this will incur a charge.

What is a private water supply?

A private water supply is any water supply which is not provided by a water company (water undertaker) and which is not be considered to be a 'mains' supply. Private water supplies can be obtained from a variety of sources including springs, wells, boreholes, rivers and streams, lakes or ponds. All private water supplies can pose a potential threat to health unless they are properly protected and treated.

Unlike mains water supplies, many private supplies are not treated to remove contamination. You may not be able to tell whether your water is safe as contamination may not show as smell, taste or colour of the water. 

What is a risk assessment?

A risk assessment is a check on the condition of the supply. It involves looking at the source of the supply, the surrounding area and anticipating what might lead to contamination. It will also involve looking at storage tanks, pipework and treatment systems. The risk assessment identifies any actual and potential hazards that may affect the health of those drinking the water, so that improvements can be made to ensure the quality of the water supply and safeguard the health of those using it.

The cost of the risk assessment will be divided between each of the properties (see the guide to fees charged below). All supplies which serve two or more properties, or provides water to a commercial premises are subject to periodic assessment. We will contact owners in advance to arrange appointments for risk assessments.

For domestic supplies, in order to aid the risk assessment process we have devised a Record Book which you can print and complete in order to keep an information record about your private water supply. Often during the Risk Assessment process, there are no records available which almost certainly means the supply will be categorised as Very High or High Risk, and the frequency of Risk Assessment or Sampling can be increased as a result (meaning further cost to the owner of the property). Therefore, we hope that this record will help to reduce the risk. 

Single domestic properties on a private water supply

If your well or borehole serves only one property, you will be classed as a 'single domestic property' and therefore are not required to have routine sampling by us under the new regulations.

If you live in a single domestic property supplied by a private water supply and wish to have your drinking water sampled and analysed, it is recommended that you contact one of the analytical laboratories or water treatment companies to carry this out for you.

Suitable companies can be found on Yell.com or in the Yellow Pages under 'Laboratory Facilities and Services'. Please be aware that you will have to pay the company for this service.

Commercial, public, large and small supplies

These supplies will be required to be sampled on a routine basis as determined by the regulations and periodic risk assessments. Environmental Protection team officers will contact all those supplies on our records to arrange sampling visits and risk assessments as required.

Commercial premises - include hotels, guest houses, restaurants, cafes, B&B’s, holiday let accommodation, caravan sites, camp sites, temporary sites such as show grounds and festivals.

Public buildings - include schools and colleges, nursing homes, hospitals, clinics, village halls, church halls and libraries.

Large supplies - includes private water supplies which supply water to domestic properties only, and provide in excess of 10m³ per day of water.

Small supplies - include domestic properties where a private water supply provides less than 10m³ per day, or serves less than 50 persons.

This list is not intended to be exhaustive, and if you feel that your water supply should be sampled and risk assessed, please contact us to discuss this.

If a meter is not available to estimate how much water is used per day, 0.2m³ is multiplied by the amount of people using the supply. For example, for 12 people using a water supply 12 x 0.2 = 2.4m³ per day.

I have a commercial, public or large premises and I haven't had my water supply tested

It is likely that you have already been contacted if we are aware of your premises having a private water supply. However, if you have not been contacted, and you feel that your premises may fall into the above category, please contact us to discuss this further.

I have a private water supply which serves two or more properties

We are currently working through our large list of small supplies and therefore it is likely that you will be contacted in due course. However, if you have never received any correspondence from us relating to your private water supply, we may not know of its existence and you should contact us to discuss this further.

Fees chargeable by the Council

The regulations allow the Council to charge fees for its activities in ensuring that private water supplies to commercial and residential premises are wholesome.

Maintaining your water supply

We strongly recommend that private water supplies and their distribution and treatment systems are properly maintained to prevent contamination of your drinking water.

Wells and boreholes should be suitably covered and protected. Loft or other storage tanks should be checked and cleaned when required. Any treatment systems such as ultra-violet (UV) and reverse osmosis filters should be checked and maintained in accordance with the manufacturers' instructions and guidelines.

You may wish to employ a water treatment company to carry out maintenance for you. Names of companies who carry out this kind of work can be found on Yell.com or in the Yellow Pages under 'Pumps and Pumping Equipment' or 'Water Treatment'.

What to do if you have a problem and you are supplied by a mains water company

All water supply queries and emergencies should be raised directly with the water company that supplies you:

Complaints about the service received from a mains water company should be directed to the Consumer Council for Water.