We check the quality and safety of private water supplies.
Private water supplies
A private water supply is one that is not provided by a water company. It is not a mains supply. Most private water supplies are in rural locations. They may be from wells, boreholes, springs or streams. We sample and risk assess these supplies.
The person responsible for a private water supply is defined as:
- the owner or occupier of the premises supplied
- the owner or occupier of the premises where the source of the supply is situated
- any other person who exercises powers of management or control in relation to that source
Private Water Supplies Regulations
The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 and 2018 (Amendment) Regulations cover all private water supplies and private distribution systems. They safeguard public health by ensuring that supplies are safe to drink by risk assessment and regular sampling.
There are four categories of private water supplies:
- Single domestic dwellings - a supply serving only one owner-occupied property
- Small supplies (Regulation 10) - supplying fewer than 50 people, with water used for domestic purposes
- Large supplies (Regulation 9) - supplying more than 50 people with water for domestic purposes or serving commercial premises. For example, bed and breakfasts, holiday lets, food production businesses and public buildings
- Private distribution systems (Regulation 8) - where mains water is supplied to properties through a private network of pipes.
Risk assessments and monitoring requirements
We carry out a risk assessment of Regulation 8, 9 and 10 private water supplies at least every five years. We check the supply to identify potential failures of standards and risks to human health and take action to control those risks.
Monitoring and sampling
The regulations state how often private water supplies need sampling:
- Single domestic dwellings - no sampling, unless requested by the supply owner
- Small supplies (Regulation 10) - at least once every five years
- Large / commercial (Regulation 9) - at least once a year. This may be more frequent depending on the volume of water used or if there are any concerns
- Private distribution systems (Regulation 8) - at least once every five years.
Fees and charges
The regulations allow us to recover costs from private supply owners/operators for providing:
- Risk assessments
- Sampling visit*
- Granting of authorisation
- Analysis costs (check and audit monitoring)
*No fee is payable where we take a sample to confirm or clarify the results of the analysis of a previous sample.
For more information on charges, please contact us (see below).
Investigation and action in the event of a failure
All quality failures must be immediately investigated. This is to find the cause of the failure and whether the condition of the distribution system was at fault. We require remedial action and will prohibit or restrict the use of water if it could be harmful to health.
We will always try to resolve problems informally first. If unsuccessful, we will take formal action.
We can serve an authorisation to allow failed supplies to continue whilst remedial works are carried out. Authorisations may only be granted for failures that do not constitute a health risk.
Before issuing an authorisation we will consult all water users and the Health Authority. We will provide advice to those that may be at greater risk - for example, parents of babies. We will review authorisations to ensure progress is being made towards improvement.
We can issue notices to improve, restrict or prohibit unwholesome supplies. Failure to comply may result in either works in default or prosecution in a Magistrates' Court.
You can appeal to the Magistrates' Court or the Secretary of State, depending on which notice is served.
Contact usEnvironmental and Community Protection
Telephone: 01442 228000