Private Water Supplies

Private Water Supplies

The majority of drinking water is supplied by a water company such as Yorkshire Water or Northumbrian Water. This is described as mains water and is treated and regularly checked for compliance with strict standards to protect the consumer. However, there are many smaller supplies that rely on water collected from springs, boreholes, wells and other sources that are not subject to any form of treatment at source. They can therefore be contaminated by grazing animals, runoff from fields, birds, rodents and from minerals or other substances found in the ground from which the water is collected. Each supply therefore needs its own unique protection and often treatment to ensure it Is safe.

These private supplies can provide drinking water to homes and commercial or industrial premises. The legislation described below also applies to mains water that is distributed to several premises within a local distribution system e.g. on a caravan site or in a shopping centre. These are also described as Private Water Supplies.

Private Water Supplies are also sampled and the water analysed to look for the levels of prescribed substances including bacteria, minerals, odour, colour, taste and a host of other criteria. The extent of sampling varies according to the type of supply, the number of consumers or the purpose for which the water is being used.

Summary of legislation
The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 (The Regulations) prescribe that all private water supplies, except those serving single domestic properties, must be risk assessed every 5 years. The legislation can be found using this link Regulations.

The risk assessments work alongside the sampling programme to identify where, if necessary, improvements can be made to the supply and whether there is a risk to the health of consumers. In this case, action can be taken to improve the supply. Details of the criteria used to develop the sampling programme can be found in the legislation, together with the list of substances and criteria used in relation to the sampling exercise.

Who needs to apply?
New or reinstated water supplies - The Regulations require that the Local Authority must be satisfied that a new or reinstated drinking water supply does not constitute a risk to health prior to it being brought into use. To avoid delays, it is highly recommended that the person(s) responsible for the supply should contact Environmental Health at the earliest opportunity so that an assessment can be made and suitable treatment sourced and fitted if necessary. If the Local Authority has not assessed the water supply or believes that it poses a potential risk to human health, notice will be served to restrict the use of the supply. 

Does it cost anything to have my private water supply sampled or risk assessed?

The legislation permits the Local Authority to charge for sampling, undertaking risk assessments and for work involved in ensuring compliance with standards. The maximum permissible charges detailed in the legislation and the charges that will be levied within this District are set out in this table docxFees and Charges.
If you have a supply serving a single domestic premises, we do not routinely visit but can undertake sampling at your request, in which case a charge as shown in this table would be levied.

What happens if the supply fails the test?
If our sampling or risk assessment finds a failure in the supply or its method of collection of the water, there could be a risk to health of consumers. We would need to ensure that improvements are undertaken and may serve a legal notice if necessary to secure improvement of the supply. At the very least, we need to make sure that all consumers of the relevant supply are aware of the failures in case an alternative solution is available. We will offer advice and try to secure improvements informally before the use of legal notices is considered.

What if I have a complaint or concern?
Contact us in the first instance at the address below. Otherwise, if you are located in the UK, Advice Guide will give you advice. From outside the UK, contact the UK European Consumer Centre. Opens in a new window

There is a right of appeal against any notices served to a magistrates' court, details of the method of appealing would be sent with any statutory notice.

Public Register?
The Local Authority is required to keep records of the supply, any samples taken and related results and any enforcement action taken. This information has to be forwarded to the Drinking Water Inspectorate annually and must be kept securely for 30 years. However, this information is not included in a public register.

For further information
For further information about private water supplies, water sampling costs, methods of water treatment and protection you can contact us at the address below.

You can also find further information from the Drinking Water Inspectorate websiteat the following links:-

Contact Information
Environmental Health
Richmondshire District Council
Mercury House
North Yorkshire
DL10 4JX

Telephone: 01748 829100
Fax: 01748 826186

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Contact Us

Richmondshire District Council
Mercury House
Station Road
North Yorkshire
DL10 4JX

Phone: 01748 829100
Fax: 01748 826186
E-Mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.