What Is a Private Water Supply?
A private water supply is, in general terms, any water supply which is not provided by a water company such as Anglian or Severn Trent. The source of the supply may be a well, borehole, spring, stream, river, lake or pond. The supply may serve just one property or several and may be used to supply water to commercial premises such as hospitals, schools and restaurants.
The risks from private supplies can be significant if high standards are not maintained and precautions are not put in place to adequately protect the supply.
How Are They Monitored For Safety?
The Private Water Supply Regulations 2009 introduced new monitoring duties and require the local authority to carry out a risk assessment on specific areas of the supply. The outcome of the risk assessment is then used to determine the frequency of any subsequent inspections, monitoring or sampling.
For small supplies (of less than 10m³/day) the risks posed are generally lower because fewer people are exposed to the risks. As such the frequency of inspections, monitoring and sampling is likely to the less. Larger supplies (greater than 10m³/day), and supplies to commercial or public premises, will require check and audit monitoring which is a more rigorous sampling and testing regime intended to identify hazards and mitigate risks to the supply.
In many cases a private water supply will serve only a single dwelling. The routine sampling and risk assessment of supplies to single dwellings is not mandatory but must be carried out upon request from the owner of the supply.
The Regulations set out procedures we must follow if we consider a private water supply is unwholesome. This includes requirements to:
- Investigate the cause
- Inform the user(s) if the supply constitutes a potential danger to human health
- Give the user(s) advice to allow them to minimise any such potential danger
- Liaise with the Health Protection Agency to seek advice on whether there is potential danger to human health.
If a supply needs to be improved, the local authority will liaise informally with supply owner/users to prevent potential dangers to human health. If an informal approach does not achieve this then there are other options open to us in the Regulations, including serving notices.
We are able to make reasonable charges, to cover our costs for carrying out the duties under the Regulations, up to maximum limits set out in the Regulations. We have to complete a risk assessment of each private water supply in the first five years after the Regulations came into force. This duty does not apply to supplies to single non-commercial dwellings unless a risk assessment is requested.