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
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
Summary of legislation
The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 prescribe that all
private water supplies, except those serving single domestic
properties, must be risk assessed every 5 years. The legislation
can be found here.
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 here, together with the list of substances and
criteria used in relation to the sampling exercise.
Who needs to apply?
There is no need to apply for the use of a private water supply but
if you have a private water supply, but have not been contacted by
the Environmental Health Service, it may be because we are unaware
of your supply. If you wish to notify us of your supply, please
download the form here and send it to the contact address
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 table here Opens in a
new window shows the maximum permissible charges
detailed in the legislation and the charges that will be levied
within this District.
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
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, Consumer Direct Opens in a new window 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.
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 access information at the following links:-
Opens in a new window
www.privatewatersupplies.gov.uk Opens in a new
Environmental Health Shared Service
Richmondshire District Council
Telephone: 01748 829100
Fax: 01748 826186