Private water supplies (PWS)

A private water supply is any water supply which is not a public water supply provided by a water company such as Southern Water. The source of the supply may be a well, borehole, spring, stream, river, lake or pond. The supply may serve more than one property.

The Private Water Supply Regulations 2016 and the amended 2018 regulations introduced new monitoring duties and require the local authority to carry out a risk assessment on specific areas of the supply.

The council has to monitor private water supplies. The Regulations set out monitoring requirements from which we develop our annual sampling programme:

  • For small supplies (of less than 10m³/day) the monitoring is based on the conclusions of the risk assessment
  • Larger PWS (greater than 10m³/day), and supplies to commercial or public premises, will require check and audit monitoring
  • Sampling and risk assessment of supplies to single dwellings is carried out on request

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, we 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 their costs for carrying out their duties up to maximum limits set out in the Regulations. You can view our charges below. We have to complete a risk assessment of each PWS 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.

If your home or business is served by a private water supply and is not currently registered, or if you have a private water supply that is currently registered and would like to arrange for a sample to be taken, or would like further advice on treatment methods or other private water supply matters, please send a message to the Environmental Health team.

Private distribution systems

Where a water company supplies water to a boundary of a premises and the person responsible for the premises supplies it onwards to other buildings or properties on the site which have different occupiers, this becomes a private water supply under the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009.

Types of premises where this might occur would include:

  • campsites where water is distributed to individual units or stand pipes
  • business parks
  • industrial estates
  • a college campus

Types of premises that are not included are as follows:

  • blocks of residential flats/apartments whether owner occupied or tenanted
  • houses that have multiple occupancy
  • a row of two or more houses (usually a terrace) supplied by a water undertaker from a single common supply pipe

This further distribution of water is known as a Private Distribution System and the regulations introduce responsibilities for the person in charge of the distribution.

We are required to identify private distribution systems in the district (by the end of 2014) and to carry out a risk assessment on the pipes, storage tanks etc which join the buildings (before 31 December 2014). Monitoring will then be undertaken to check that measures are in place to ensure the water is safe.

The risk assessment will determine the frequency of monitoring which will take into account the nature of the distribution system, number and types of premises served.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate is developing guidance on private distribution systems which will be available on their website - The Drinking Water Inspectorate website.

Local authorities are permitted to charge for risk assessments up to statutory maximum in the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009. Please see below for our charges.

If you would like further information or if you believe you have management responsibility for a Private Distribution System or if you believe your property is served by this type of supply please send a message to the Environmental Health team.

Private water supplies and drought

Information on water supplies and drought is available to view on the Drinking Water Inspectorate website.

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