Private water supplies

Any private water supply may present a risk to health if the water is not protected and treated. The supply may become contaminated with harmful micro-organisms, chemicals or metals. Many are harmless but some may cause illness or even fatalities in vulnerable people. Sometimes the effects of consuming contaminated water do not present themselves straightaway. They can cause delayed or longer term health problems.

It is often not possible to tell if a private water supply is safe. This is because contamination may not be detected by the smell, taste, odour or appearance of the water. 

The Drinking Water Inspectorate is the advisory body for implementing regulations to help us and private water suppliers comply with the law.

Private Water Supplies Regulations

Legislation on private water supplies:

Both of these classify private water supplies into three categories:

  • Large supplies - where the supply is >10m3/day; or supplies to a commercial activity or public premises
  • Other supplies - in any other case other than for a single private dwelling
  • Single private dwelling - where a supply is for a single private dwelling.

The classification of a supply primarily depends upon:

  • The number and type of premises served
  • The volume of water used

The regulations require us to risk assess and monitor private water distribution systems.

A private distribution system is found where water is supplied by a water undertaker or licensed supplier and is then further distributed by a third party.

When monitoring, we need to be satisfied that the abstracted or distributed water meets the prescribed criteria for wholesomeness. If a sample indicates the supply is not wholesome or presents a potential danger to human health, we must carry out an investigation. We determine the cause and have enforcement options available to ensure the restoration of a safe and wholesome supply.


The regulations are designed to be cost neutral, so we can deliver at no cost to the council. For this purpose, the regulations state the maximum fees that we can charge for the various aspects of private water supply work. 

  • Risk assessment (each assessment) = £500 maximum fee
  • Sampling (each visit) = £100 maximum fee
  • Investigation (each investigation) = £100 maximum fee
  • Granting an authorisation (each authorisation) = £100 maximum fee

Analysing a sample:

  • Taken under regulation 10 (small supplies) = £25 maximum fee
  • Taken during check monitoring (large supplies) = £100 maximum fee
  • Taken during audit monitoring (large supplies) = £500 maximum fee

Contact us

Please get in touch with us to report a new private water supply or for enquiries about private water supply work.