These are some of the frequently asked
questions about private water supplies and who/how legislation is
What is a private water supply?
What is a commercial/large supply?
What is a private distribution network?
What are the implications of the Private Water Supplies Regulations
Who does the risk assessments and sampling?
Can I do the risk assessment and sampling myself?
Can I build up an immunity to my water as I have drunk it for years
and it hasn’t done me any harm?
If a sample taken fails to meet standards what happens?
Can I continue to use the water supply whilst a get work done to
repair the fault?
What if I do not comply?
Can I appeal?
What if the supply outlet is not on my land?
What are the costs?
What is a private
A private water supply is a supply not provided
by a water company, such as Bristol or Wessex Water.
What is a
The commercial/large category includes any
business that supplies water from a private water supply to the
public for drinking, washing, food preparation, or where the
water is used in a way that it is likely to enter the human chain
(e.g. dairies washing down equipment).
This category includes B&B, holiday lets,
pubs, dairies and food production premises. Also within
this category are domestic private water supplies that provide
water to more than 50 people.
What is a private
These private water supplies occur when the
undertaker or licensed supplier provides a water supply to the
boundary of the premises, where after the water is further
distributed via a private distribution network to
buildings/properties on the site.
What are the
implications of the Private Water Supplies Regulations
The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 look
to further safeguard public health by ensuring that supplies are
wholesome, meaning safe to drink.
Private water supplies are categorised into four
Single private dwellings
Small domestic supplies supplying fewer than 50
Large domestic supplies supplying over 50 people
or serving commercial premises, including B&B's, food
undertakers, diaries and holiday lets
Private distribution systems where mains water is
used to supply a number of properties, including caravan parks via
a private network of distribution pipes
Who does the risk
assessments and sampling?
The regulations require the council to carry out
a risk assessment of private water supplies every five
Initial risk assessments need to be complete by
2014 for all small and large private water supplies as well as
private distribution systems.
For each of the following categories of supply
the following actions can be expected:
Single Private Dwellings:
Single private dwellings will not require
routine monitoring or a risk assessment. However, a sample or
risk assess can be undertaken at the owners
Small Domestic Supplies:
The amount of monitoring will depend on the
outcome of the risk assessment. However, it will be a minimum of
once every five years. Supplies will be sampled for five basic
parameters and anything else that arises from the risk
Private Distribution Systems:
Monitoring must be carried out according to
the outcome of the risk assessment.
Large Supplies or Commercial Premises:
Two types of monitoring will occur on these
Check monitoring ensures the
wholesomeness of the water, the frequency of check monitoring
will depend on the amount of water used
Audit monitoring determines whether the
water supply meets the relevant standards. The range of
tests for audit monitoring is extensive and the amount of
monitoring depends on the outcome of the risk
It is likely that the majority of large
supplies will have two samples analysed per annum.
Can I do the risk
assessment and sampling myself?
Risk assessments can only be performed by the
local authority or a company the local authority has appointed and
approved to act on its behalf.
If you want another company to take and analyse
samples of your private water supply, the local authority will need
to approve the sampling company and analysis suite prior to samples
Can I build up an
immunity to my water as I have drunk it for years and it
hasn’t done me any harm?
People can build up resistance to bacteria,
however, a wholesome (safe to drink) supply is always
required, as visitors may not have had any time to build up
immunity. The young or unwell are likely to be affected the
If a sample taken
fails to meet standards what happens?
Any sample that fails to meet the prescribed
concentrations will result in the supply being investigated to try
and determine the reason for this failure. If a wholesome supply
cannot be achieved through implementing physical changes to the
supply network, then addition or upgraded water treatment apparatus
may be required.
Can I continue to
use the water supply whilst a get work done to repair the
We can serve an authorisation to allow failed
supplies to continue whilst works are carried out to achieve
compliance. Authorisations may only be granted for failures that do
not constitute a health risk.
What if I do not
In the event of failure, where a supply is found
not to be wholesome, then action is sought to remedy this. An
improvement notice may be served that specifies the improvements to
be made to the supply, the persons who should carry out the work
and when this work should be completed by.
In the event of a failure that is liable to cause
an immediate risk to human health then a further notice will be
served that places a prohibition on the use of the supply. Failure
to comply with a notice may result in prosecution in a Magistrates
Appeals can be made to the Magistrates Court or
the Secretary of State depending on which notice is served.
What if the supply
outlet is not on my land?
The owner of the private water supply is
responsible for providing safe water to the users even if the
supply outlet (tap) is not on the owners land.
What are the
For details of costs visit our
fees and charges page.