Private water supply

What is a private water supply?

A private water supply is any water supply that is not provided by a water company for example a private well, borehole, spring, stream, river, lake or pond. These supplies now fall under the Private Water Regulations 2009, which came into force in early 2010.

The Regulations divide premises into 3 main categories of supply:

  1. Large Supplies which provide ≥10m3/day of water (serving >50 persons), provide water for commercial use or for use in public buildings.
  2. Small Supplies which provide <10m3/day (serving <50 persons) to more than one premises and the water is used only for domestic purposes.
  3. Single Dwellings where water is provided for one premises and is used for only domestic purposes.

Local authorities have a responsibility to conduct risk assessments on all large and small supplies every 5 years (Single dwellings may request a risk assessment). These risk assessments are intended to identify any potential risks to human health and will be conducted on a prioritised basis with large, commercial and public premises being assessed first. (There is a charge for the risk assessment)

By the end of January each year, local authorities are required to send information about each supply to the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI).

Why conduct a risk assessment?

The risk assessment is intended to:

  • Identify risks in the catchment and ensure any practical control measures are in place.
  • Identify risks that need to be controlled by treatment.
  • Identify risks of contamination entering the distribution network.
  • Identify risks of contamination within the premises.
  • Establish the control measures and operational monitoring required.
  • Establish standard operating protocols for treatment and distribution and also establish protocols for timely remediation when an operational problem is detected.
  • Identify security risks with the source, treatment works and distribution network.
  • Verify drinking water quality through routine checks and inspections.

Further monitoring

Following the risk assessment local authorities are required to conduct check monitoring for set parameters on all large supplies. This is intended to:

  • Determine whether water complies with the standards set in the regulations.
  • Provide information on the organoleptic (taste, odour & appearance) and microbiological quality of the water.
  • Establish the effectiveness of any treatment.

In addition to check monitoring less frequent audit monitoring must also be conducted for parameters determined by the risk assessment. (All check and audit monitoring is subject to a fee).

The monitoring regime for small supplies will be determined solely by the outcome of the risk assessment.

Single dwellings where the water is used solely for domestic purposes are exempt from risk assessments and sampling unless the user requests an assessment or sampling is carried out. Should this occur the user will be subject to paying a fee for the works.

What are the risks and what improvements might be needed?

Even if untreated water looks clear, it can still contain microorganisms or chemical contamination which will not necessarily be detected by taste or smell. Micro-organisms can cause vomiting, diarrhoea or more severe illnesses. Chemical contamination can affect the wholesomeness of the water and in some cases can result in a wide variety of illnesses depending on the type and concentrations of chemical contaminants.

When monitoring detects a failure to meet the specified standard the council will carry out an investigation to determine the cause, they will advise on remediation options and if necessary issue a notice to prevent any danger to human health.

Likely remediation options may include source protection measures to prevent contaminated surface water or rainwater ingress from entering the supply source, for example raising the well or borehole headworks, drainage ditches and waterproof manholes. Other options may include a range of treatments such as UV combined with particulate filtration, chlorination or chlorine dioxide treatment.

If you have a Private Water Supply further advice is available via the links below. If your supply is not known to East Staffordshire Borough Council it is important that you contact us as soon as possible on 01283 508524 or email so that a risk assessment can be completed if necessary.

Private Distribution Systems (PDS)

The private Water Regulations 2009 also cover Private Distribution Systems. A Private Distribution System exists where water is supplied by a water undertaker or licensed water supplier and is then further distributed by a person other than a water undertaker or a licensed water supplier.  Examples of such systems may include caravan sites where water is distributed to different plots or standpipes.

Large temporary events and festivals are also likely to fall under the bracket of Private Distribution Systems where temporary pipework, storage tanks and standpipes are often installed. This can pose a high risk if there is a problem with the water, particularly as it could potentially affect a large number of people of various age groups including vulnerable groups as well as various food traders.

Local Authorities are required to risk assess and sample all Private Distribution Systems and for large temporary events preparation and planning would need to commence in advance of the event taking place. A Water Safety Plan would also need to be formulated. The risk assessment would need to consider factors such as:

  • set up of pipework
  • transport and storage of water supply materials
  • taps
  • provision of double check / isolation valves
  • security
  • control of chemical dosing
  • use of the land during the rest of the year
  • monitoring - sampling, chemicals, leaks etc
  • emergency contingencies for situations such as burst pipes, variable weather conditions (drought or flooding)
  • staff training

Further guidance and advice on Private Distribution Systems is available via the links below. Should you have a permanent Private Distribution System unknown to East Staffordshire Borough Council or you are planning to hold a large temporary event where a temporary water supply or distribution network is likely to be used, please contact Environmental Health on 01283 508524 or email

Fees and charges related to the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009

Through the implementation of our requirements under the above legislation costs are incurred, which we charge on those responsible for the supply or using the supply.

The table below highlights the typical costs for the various activities, including risk assessing, sampling & analysis (monitoring), authorising and investigations.

The table highlights the maximum fees we are allowed to charge, but also includes what we envisage will be the typical costs for the activities, including what the charge includes.

Unfortunately, we are unable to give exact costs per activity due to the varied nature of individual private water supplies, but we will be happy to discuss charges further if you contact us through the above email or telephone number.

Activity Maximum charge permitted Our example charging scheme prices Comments
Risk Assessment £500

Large Supply approx. £350

(Cost proportionally divided by all users relative to time spent at each property).

Based on hourly rate (and travel costs) for the amount of time taken for a desk top study and site visit(s). Excludes analysis costs.

Small Supply approx. £250

(Cost proportionally divided by all users relative to time spent at each property).

Based on hourly rate (and travel costs) for the amount of time taken for a desk top study and site visit(s). Excludes analysis costs.
Sampling £100 Approx. £50 per property. Based on hourly rate (and travel costs). Assumes a number of properties are included in the sampling.
Investigation £100

Approx. £100

(Cost divided between all users if failure is for the overall supply or charged on an individual property if failure relates just to that premise).

Includes hourly rate, travel costs and also analysis.
Authorisation £100 £35 (charged on person responsible for the water supply). Based on hourly rate
Under Reg. 10 (Small supplies/domestic supplies) £25 Approx. £25 per property. Based on a small number of parameters (substances). In addition to the sampling costs above.
Check monitoring (Large supplies/ commercial supplies) £100 Approx. £60 (per supply, divided between all users). Based on a set number of parameters (substances). In addition to the sampling costs above.
Audit monitoring (Commercial supplies) £500 Approx. £100 (per supply, divided between all users). Based on a varied number of parameters (substances) depending on the nature of the water supply and the respective risk assessment. In addition to the sampling costs above.