A private water supply is any water supply which is not provided by a water utility company. The source of the supply may come from:
- rivers or streams
- lakes or ponds
- a private distribution system (mains water which is privately distributed by a second party)
The supply can serve just one property or several properties through a network of pipes.
All private water supplies must be registered with the Council and relevant details are required to be kept on a Public Register. If you have a private water supply or are planning to install one, you must ensure you register the supply with us.
Private water supplies fall into one of four categories, each requiring different levels of monitoring by local authorities. Once your supply is registered, we use this information to ensure the water supply is being monitored sufficiently. Please be aware, if the property being served by a private water supply has commercial use, for example, a rented property, holiday let or a bed and breakfast, or you intent to change to a commercial use, you will need to inform us immediately.
Councils are consulted on many activities, such as planning applications, which could affect a private water supply if they are located close to the source of the supply. It is therefore essential that we are aware of the location of private water supplies so we can access this information when making a decision.
It is also essential that we are able to contact everyone who may be using the supply in the event of a problem with the supply.
Fees charged by the Council
The Council will charge the costs of carrying out their duties under these regulations to those responsible for the supply. Where part of a shared supply is used by some commercial activity the charges may be divided between the commercial and non-commercial properties proportionally.
Take a look at our fees and charges.
Sampling Process and Regulations
The Private Water Supplies Regulations came into force in January 2010 and were updated in 2018. They seek to further safeguard public health by ensuring that private water supplies are wholesome and safe to drink. The new regulations aim to protect health and they require quality standards similar to those of mains water supply. They require each supply - unless it supplies only one property - to undergo a risk assessment.
The regulations require each supply (excluding private domestic dwellings) to undergo a risk assessment every 5 years to determine how regularly the supply needs to be tested and for which parameters, for example, types of bacteria or chemicals.
Risk assessments will normally be carried out by prior appointment and, where possible, details of what needs to be inspected will be provided prior to the site visit. This is to ensure the owner or occupier has the opportunity to arrange access to the water system or arrange for someone with detailed knowledge of the system to be there. This can reduce the amount of time we are required on site which can also reduce the cost.
Samples from private water supplies will normally be taken from a consumer tap and then sent for analysis at an approved laboratory. The sampling frequency and the extent of the analysis needed will depend on the results of the risk assessment.
- Larger supplies (using more than 10 cubic metres of water per day) and those serving commercial premises are now required to undergo annual 'check monitoring' as well as more extensive 'audit monitoring'.
- Small supplies (using less than 10 cubic metres of water per day) are monitored at least once every 5 years and more frequently if shown to be necessary by the risk assessment.
- Supplies serving only an individual domestic dwelling will only be risk assessed and tested at the request of owner or occupier.
Any sample that fails to meet the prescribed concentrations laid out in the Private Water Supply Regulations must have an investigation to determine the reason for the failure and to identify what action is needed to improve the supply. This may mean further sampling being conducted at the source, holding tanks and/or other parts of the infrastructure to assist the investigation.
If a wholesome supply cannot be achieved through implementing physical changes to the supply network, the water will require treatment before use. A wide range of treatment options are available.
In the event of failure, where a supply is found to be 'unwholesome' or a 'risk to human health', a notice will be served either prohibiting or restricting the supply, as appropriate. The notice will be specific for each supply that has a failure of standards.
This notice can be appealed in a Magistrate's Court and/or by appeal to the Secretary of State, but the notice will remain in force until either it has been complied with or it is suspended by the Courts/Secretary of State.
Please take a look at our frequently asked questions for more information.