Private water supplies
What is a 'private water supply'?
A private water supply is any water supply not provided by a water company. It is not a "mains" supply. Many private supplies are less well managed than mains supplies, and consequently the quality of the water is less reliable.
No water rates are paid for these supplies. However, the person who owns the supply may make a charge. The owner (or person who uses the supply) is responsible for repairing and maintaining it.
There are about 150 private water supplies in the Babergh district, most of which serve only 1 property. There are about 115 in the Mid Suffolk district - again, most of which serve 1 property.
Local authorities are required by law to make and keep records of all private water supplies in their districts. If you are using a private water for drinking, food preparation or bathing, which is not monitored please contact the Food and Safety team for advice.
Categories of private water supply
The categories of private water supply are defined in the Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 (as amended).
Regulation 8 (Further distribution of supplies from water undertakers or licensed suppliers)
Regulation 8 of the Regulations covers private supplies where the water originates from a public supply main, namely ‘where water is supplied by a water undertaker or licensed water supplier and is then further distributed by a person other than a water undertaker or licensed water supplier.
Regulation 9 applies to all private water supplies
- An average daily volume of water of 10 cubic meter or more for domestic purposes (note: where the volume cannot be ascertained this equates approximately to 50 persons or more)
- Water as part of a public or commercial activity (e.g rented properties)
Regulation 10 supplies
- Those where the supply is less than 10 cubic meter per day, where the water is NOT used as part of a commercial or public activity
- Those where the supply serves a single dwelling. A local authority may monitor the supply as part of this regulation and must do so if requested to do so by the owner or occupier. These supplies do not require regulatory monitoring and risk assessment unless an owner or occupier requests it
Monitoring of private water supplies
Private supplies must meet the quality standards that are prescribed in the regulations. To ensure this is the case, private water supplies are monitored in accordance with the Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 (as amended). The purpose of this monitoring is to ensure that private water supplies provide water of the same quality as mains water.
This is achieved by a combination of risk assessments of the supply, and sampling which is a spot check to provide reassurance the supply is safe.
Sampling of Private Water Supplies
The Council has a rolling programme to monitor:
- large private water supplies (regulation 9)
- small supplies that serve more than one property (regulation 10)
The way local authorities carry this out are included in the Regulations.
These rules set out how often the Council must:
- take a sample of water
- what tests it must carry out
- how often it will risk assess a supply
- allow the local authority to recover the costs of this work (Find out how much the Council charges)
Supplies serving single dwellings are not routinely monitored but can be at the owner's request.
Householders should be aware that if water sampling results reveal a problem, this could mean that the Council will have to serve a notice. This notice would be on the ‘relevant persons’; to carry out works that make the water compliant under the regulations.
Risk Assessment of Private Water Supplies
The Council must carry out a risk assessment of all supplies (except single dwellings) every 5 years.
The risk assessment will study the source of the water, the treatment used and distribution system. It aims to identify potential causes of contamination, so that they can be dealt with before a problem occurs.
Under the regulations, a risk assessment is not needed for single dwellings. However, they can be requested by the owner if they have any concerns about their water quality.
Monitoring by persons other than the local authority
The owner of a supply may make their own arrangements for monitoring of their supply; however, this must meet the requirements of the regulations. Please contact the Food and Safety team if you wish to make your own arrangements.
Where the supplies are found to pose a risk to health, whether through a risk assessment or through sampling; the local authority is required under the regulations to serve an enforcement notice to require action to be taken to ensure that the water is safe.
This notice will be served on the ‘relevant persons’.
A “relevant person” means:
- the owner and occupier (who may be the same or different persons) of premises which are supplied with water for domestic or food production purposes by means of a private supply
- the owner and occupier (who may be the same or different persons) of land on which any part of the supply is situated
- any other person who exercises powers of management or control in relation to that supply
Concerns or questions about your private water supply
If you have any concerns about the safety or quality of your private water supply, please contact the food and safety team.
Other useful information: