Private water supplies

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:

  • Wells
  • Boreholes
  • Springs
  • Rivers or streams
  • Lakes or ponds
  • Private distribution system (mains water privately distributed by a second party)

The supply may serve just one property or several properties through a network of pipes.

 All private water supplies must be registered with the council where a Public Register is maintained.  

Private Water Supply Regulations 2016

The Private Water Supplies Regulations seeks to 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 the same quality standards similar to those of mains water supply. They require each supply to undergo a risk assessment.  Risk assessment is a proactive approach identifying potential hazards to human health. 

The information analysed in the assessment will be recorded in a report specific to your private water supply and allows action to be taken to manage risks through a multi-barrier approach, involving source protection, treatment of the source water and management of the distribution network to prevent contaminants entering the supply system. The regulations affect all private supplies although those serving a single dwelling will only be risk assessed and sampled upon request of the owner or occupier.

The council will charge for this work - please see the charges table below. 

Risk assessments

The regulations require each supply to undergo a risk assessment every five years, to determine how regularly the supply needs to be tested and what parameters to test for. This involves surveying the supply; source through to point of use to identify factors that could lead to contamination of the supply. Factors influencing sampling requirements include the type of source (i.e. borehole, well etc.), how protected it is, the treatment methods in place, the number of people served by the supply and the intended use of the water. 

Risk assessments will normally be carried out by prior appointment, and where possible details of what needs to be inspected/considered will be provided prior to the site visit.  This is to ensure that the owner or occupier has the opportunity to arrange access to the various parts of the water system, arrange for someone with detailed knowledge of the system to attend, and generally reduce the amount of time we are required to be on site, thereby also reducing 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 analysis needed will depend on the results of the risk assessment.  Larger supplies and those serving commercial premises are now required to undergo regular ‘check monitoring’, as well as more extensive ‘audit monitoring’ on a less frequent basis.  However, supplies serving individual domestic premises only need be tested at the request of the owner or occupier.  


Any sample that fails to meet the prescibed concentrations laid out in the Private Water Supply Regulations must have an investigation to determine the reason for the failure and 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 or secretary of state but remains in force until either it has been complied with or it is suspended by the courts. 


In certain circumstances where a supply fails the water quality standard, but the failure is of a parameter which does not cause a risk to health, the council may grant an 'authorisation' to exceed the statutory limit, for a temporary period, while measures are put in place to correct the problem.  


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, e.g. bed and breakfast, pub, camp site, the charges may be divided between the commercial and non-commercial properties proportionally.  A breakdown of the council’s charges in respect of private water supplies is included below along with the maximum fee allowed to be charged under the regulations.






Minimum charge


  Maximum charge



Risk Assessment


£100, to include travel, administration and first two hours of assessment.  Work in excess of two hours added on at hourly rate* up to maximum


We will undertake a risk assessment of all private water supplies excluding single private domestic dwellings by 31st December 2014. This will determine the parameters analysed during audit monitoring. Risk assessments will then be carried out every five years.

Sampling visit

£50 for the first hour including travel and administration. Work in excess of one hour added on at hourly rate* up to maximum


Charge for a visit and to take a sample


£50 for the first hour including travel and administration.  Work in excess of one hour added on at hourly rate* up to maximum


Carried out in the event of test failure, can be substituted by risk assessment

Granting an authorisation

£50 for the first hour including travel and administration. Work in excess of one hour added on at hourly rate* up to maximum.


Application by the owner of a supply for permission to breach a standard temporarily whilst  remedial work is carried out

Sample analysis

Laboratory fees up to maximum.

  £25 for a sample taken under regulation 10, £100 for check monitoring, £500 for audit monitoring

Check monitoring is carried out to ensure that water complies with standards. Where possible it is carried out at the same time as any requirement for audit monitoring, to keep cost down.

*Officer costs are £53.19 per hour and will be subject to change in future years


Frequently asked questions

What is a commercial/large supply?

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 food 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. 

Can I do the risk assessment and sampling myself?

Risk assessments can only be performed by the local authority or by persons the local authority has deemed competent.  The local authority is responsible for ensuring sampling is completed according to legislation, therefore if you would like 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 being taken. The analysis must comply with the new legislation. The local authority will need to be sent the result certificates directly from the laboratory. 

Why do you need a risk assessment of your private water supply?

  • Protect public health
  • Maintain public/customer confidence in drinking water
  • Legal duty and the responsibility of the water supplier

The Risk Assessment will illustrate how to minimise the potential risks to your supply and to human health, and provide adequate information to allow audit monitoring parameters to be identified.

On completion of your risk assessment the further requirement for periodic monitoring of your supply will be explained to you and every 5 years your risk assessment will be reviewed. You will receive the assessment report and a copy will be retained for 30 years at the council.

The Private Water Supplies Regulations impose a tighter legal duty for monitoring of your supply and one of the functions of the risk assessment is to identify any parameter which could pose a potential risk to human health and for any parameters so identified to be monitored. 

How long will the assessment take?

The risk assessment will typically take roughly 2 hours and as the responsible person of the supply it would be ideal for you to be present so that the risk assessment can be conducted as quickly and efficiently as possible.  During the risk assessment we will need access to the source of the supply i.e. borehole, well, or spring, any collection chambers, holding/storage tanks including header tanks which may be found in roof spaces, and finally the point of use of the supply. 

How much will the risk assessment cost?

Regulation 21 of the Private Water Supplies Regulations lays down the fees which the Local Authority can charge to re-cover the cost of conducting the risk assessment and monitoring programme.  The council has set the charges for this financial year. Please see charges table above. 

How regularly will my supply need to be sampled?

Single Private Dwelling 

No requirement. 

Small Domestic Supplies 

Once every 5 years or more frequently if risk assessment identifies need. 

Private Distribution System 

Dependant on need identified by Risk Assessment. 

Large or Commercial Supplies 

To be determined by volume of water supplied. 


Why should I register my private water supply with the local authority?

So that we can:

  • Carry out risk assessment and monitoring if required under the Private Water Supply Regulations 2016.
  • Certain activities such as bio-solid use on land are reported to the council and if we are not aware of your private water supply we cannot advise the appropriate agencies to ensure there is no risk to your supplies catchment area.
  • Inform you of potential contamination threats to aquifers that may serve your supply.
  • To notify you of any updates of legislation involving private water supplies and your responsibilities. 

How can I keep my supply safe?

All parts of your supply should be routinely monitored and inspected to ensure that it is in good working order, and has not been interfered with or damaged.  Appropriate protection throughout the supply is required, including a maintenance programme to clean the distribution system and storage tanks or header tanks, furthermore to ensure all treatment works are working as they should according to manufacturer’s guidelines.  

What if I supply water to others?

If you supply water to others with or without a charge, for example other domestic premises, renting out holiday accommodation or to commercial premises with employees or food production it is your responsibility to ensure the water is wholesome and does not pose a risk to human health.   

Should I get my supply checked by the district council?

Unless your supply serves a single domestic dwelling, your supply will be risk assessed and monitored by the council in the next five years.  However if you suspect that something is wrong with the supply or you would like to request a sample to be taken and analysed you can contact Environmental Protection to arrange for this work to be carried out. 

Further guidance

Further information on the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016 is available on the Drinking Water Inspectorate Website at

If you would like further information you can contact the Environmental Protection Team - see contact details - or you can use our online form.

Last reviewed: 01 - 04 - 2019

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