Private water supplies
A private water supply is any water supply that is not provided by a water company. No water rates are paid for these supplies, although the person who owns a supply may make a charge. The owner or person who uses the supply is also responsible for repairing and maintaining it.
As the local authority, we are responsible for regulating private water supplies within the district. As part of our regulation duties, we will:
- carry out a risk assessment at least every five years (risk assessment guidance can be found through Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009)
- investigate the cause of a failure to meet a standard
- enforce restrictions and/or improvements where supplies constitute a potential danger to human health
We will also set:
- how often we must take a sample of water from a private supply (based on categorisation of supplies) for analysis
- how much we can charge for risk assessing, taking the sample and testing the water
Quality standards for water
Every house must have a good supply of clean, fresh water for it to be fit for occupation. To ensure that water used in the home and for producing food is of the high quality that is needed to protect public health, the government has set legal quality standards.
All water used for drinking, washing and cooking or used in businesses, which produce food or drink, must meet these standards.
Private supplies are more likely to be contaminated because they are more vulnerable to infection.
Water supply categorisation
There are five categories of supply:
- Commercial - supplies water to a premises where the water is used for a commercial activity, such as a holiday let, private sector rental, B and B, public house or restaurant
- Large - supplies an average daily volume of water 10 cubic metres or more
- Private distribution system - the water is supplied by a water undertaker or licensed water supplier (mains) and then further distributed by a person other than the water undertaker or licensed water supplier (an example would be a caravan site)
- Small private shared - the water is supplied to more than one domestic dwelling
- Single private dwelling - one domestic dwelling
All categories, with the exception of private single dwellings, require risk assessment at least once every five years.
Monitoring intervals are more complex. Commercial and large supplies require at least bi-annual water sampling to ensure that the water is wholesome and meets the standards for each parameter.
There is no statutory requirement for the council to risk assess or monitor private single dwellings, although a service is provided on request.
Please be aware you will also need to pay the appropriate fee relating to monitoring.
Actions in the event of failure
Following a failure to meet a standard, the council must carry out an investigation to determine the cause.
Whenever a private water supply constitutes a potential danger to human health, either by failure to meet a standard or as a result of risk assessment, the council must issue a Notice under Regulation 18 to the 'relevant person' to restrict the supply and to address the issues involved. It is an offence to breach a notice served or fail to comply with it.
A 'relevant person' may be the owner or occupiers of premises that have a private supply or someone exercising powers of management or control in relation to the supply.
Where the private water supply is unwholesome, though not an immediate danger to health, we will work informally with the relevant person to improve the supply. However, we do have the power to enforce compliance or improvement as appropriate.