A private water supply is any supply of water, intended for human consumption, which is not provided by a water company such as Yorkshire Water or Severn Trent, either in its original state or after treatment, intended for drinking.
This includes water either in its original state or after treatment, intended for drinking, cooking, food preparation or other domestic purposes, regardless of its origin and whether it is supplied from a distribution network, from a tanker, or in bottles or containers, or, all water used in any food-production undertaking for the manufacture, processing, preservation or marketing of products or substances intended for human consumption
A private water supply may serve just one property or several properties through a network of pipes and will generally supply water which has been taken from a borehole, well or spring. Private water supplies may also take water from a stream, river, lake or pond. However, it is not recommended as the quality of these water sources if more difficult to control and they are more vulnerable to contamination.
Each supply requires its own unique protection and treatment. Those supplies which fall within the scope of the regulations are risk assessed and improvements recommended. If there is a risk to public health improvements will be enforced in accordance with the Regulations.
There are around 53 registered private water supplies in North East Derbyshire.
All shared domestic and commercial private water supplies within North East Derbyshire District Council must be registered with North East Derbyshire District Council, and are monitored to ensure that they are of sufficiently high quality to protect the health of consumers.
Legislation – (Private Water Supplies Regulation 2016 (as amended) and The Water Industry Act 1991)
Private water supplies are regulated by the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016as amended by The Private Water Supplies (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2018.The regulations aim to protect the health of people consuming water from the supply.
Section 77 of the Water Industry Act 1991 requires a local authority to keep itself informed about the wholesomeness and sufficiency of every private water supply within its area. Each local authority achieves this by conducting its statutory duties which include undertaking risk assessments, investigations, authorisations and monitoring (sampling and analysis).
Local authorities are under a statutory duty to provide reporting information relating to private water supplies to the Secretary of State.
The regulations require that private water supplies meet the same standards as water from a mains water supply.
With the exception of private water supplies to single domestic dwellings the regulations require that the Council risk assesses each supply every five years and carry out periodic sampling of the water to assess its microbiological and chemical quality.
North East Derbyshire District Council must complete a risk assessment and sample a private water supply as soon as possible after we become aware of it. A private water supply must not be brought into use until the Council is satisfied the water does not constitute a potential danger to human health.
Why are these regulations important?
You, your family and visitors to your home or business all have a right to expect clean, safe drinking water. Private water supplies can pose a threat to health unless they are properly protected and treated. Contamination may not be detectable by smell, taste or colour so you may not be able to tell if the water is safe.
If certain types of micro-organisms are present in your drinking water then these will pose an immediate risk to your health and the health of your family or visitors. Certain micro-organisms can cause short term health effects, including severe sickness and diarrhoea, and can also cause serious long-term illness, such as kidney failure, long after the immediate effects have passed. In some unfortunate cases the presence of such organisms in drinking water has resulted in death.
The presence of some chemicals in drinking water may lead to an increased risk of poisoning or developing certain diseases if the water is consumed over a long period of time. Other chemicals may make the water look or taste unpleasant while some can cause clothes to be badly stained when they are washed.
Those at greatest risk of waterborne illness and disease are infants, young children, the elderly and the immunosuppressed.
What happens if the water quality does not meet the required standard?
If the water quality of a water supply fails to meet the requirements of the Regulations an investigation will take place to establish the cause of the failure. We will work with the person responsible for the supply to try to identify the source of the problem and discuss the options for improvement.
These improvements may include things like:
- fencing off certain elements of the supply to stop animals entering and contaminating the supply
- creating exclusion zones for the spreading of fertilizers or pesticides
- carrying out works to the borehole /well head works to prevent contamination of the supply
- improvement of the water storage tanks/reservoirs
- replacement of pipework
In some circumstances it may prove necessary to install some kind of water treatment to kill harmful micro-organisms or to remove or lower the level of a particular substance.
Examples of water treatment include:
- ultra-violet filters or chlorination to kill harmful micro-organisms
- reverse osmosis filters to remove aluminium or nitrate
- iron or manganese filters
Do I need to register my supply?
Users and owners of private water supplies are advised to inform the Council of any such supplies in use, especially those where the water is being consumed for domestic purposes or where they are used as part of a commercial or public activity. This is to ensure that the council is able to discharge its regulatory duties in the interests of the provision of public health protection.
What is a risk assessment?
Risk assessments will involve looking at the whole supply system from the water source to the tap at which the water is used. The risk assessment will identify the risks to the quality of the water including those risks from, among other things, livestock, wildlife, agricultural activities, sewage storage or treatment within the area, topography, water treatment and the condition of the supply infrastructure including storage tanks, reservoirs and pipe work.
How often do I need to be sampled?
The frequency at which sampling will take place and the microbiological and chemical parameters for which the water will be analysed will be determined by the volume of water supplied, whether the water is used for a commercial activity or public premises and the results of the risk assessment.
If necessary, we may serve a legal notice on the appropriate responsible person to require them to take the necessary steps to address the failure and to make sure that the quality of the water provided meets the required standard. Failure to comply with a notice could mean action through the courts. Enforcement will be carried out in accordance with our Policy.
If water quality from a private supply fails to meet the requirements of the Regulations this may lead to risk assessment and water sampling occurring at an increased frequency.
Private distribution network
The regulations also apply to some situations where a public supply is further distributed from a water company customer to other consumers occupying separate land, who are not on a water company billing list.
The Council must risk assess private distribution networks every five years. The sampling and analysis of the water supplied will be carried out on the basis of the risk assessment. Under these Regulations the Council will charge for the work it undertakes.
Regulation (EC) No. 852/2004 on the Hygiene of Foodstuffs lays down specific rules regarding water supplies utilised by food businesses. Chapter 7, 1(a) in particular states that: 'There is to be an adequate supply of potable water, which is to be used whenever necessary to ensure that foodstuffs are not contaminated'. 'Potable water' means, in this instance, water meeting the minimum requirements laid down in Council Directive 98/83/EC (as amended by Regulation (EC) No. 1882/2003) on the quality of water intended for human consumption.
Failure to assure a consistent safe supply of water could potentially pose a risk to health not only via consumption, but indirectly via contaminated foodstuffs.
Any documented food safety management system should include the necessary control measures, monitoring procedures, contingency plans etc. for a private water supply.
Any documented HACCP (hazard analysis critical control point) based system should include an assessment of the necessary control measures, monitoring procedures (e.g. daily checks that the treatment is fully functional), contingency plans etc. to ensure a consistent, safe supply of water is provided as part of the food operation.
It is not mandatory to have a water safety plan (WSP), but it is strongly recommended that a food business with a private water supply has one. If a food business does not have a WSP which includes an emergency procedure in the event of a sampling failure, there should be a similar document in the Food Safety Management System.
A food business should seek professional advice from a Water Consultant regarding the most appropriate chemical and biological treatment for their business, and may wish to undertake additional sampling as a supply shared with dwelling houses or another business will not always be sampled as part of the sampling programme implemented following a risk assessment.
A private water supply serving only a single dwelling, or where a single dwelling is one of multiple properties supplied from the same source, is considered to constitute part of a commercial activity when ALL of the following criteria apply:
- The landlord/owner of a property is offering accommodation to paying tenants, where without a private water supply to provide a wholesome supply, as required by the enforcement guidance to the Housing Act 2004, the property could not be let.
- The tenant(s) does not have full responsibility for the whole water supply (as agreed as part of the tenancy agreement, and clearly understood by both parties); these are excluded from the category as the tenant is exercising his right to water and can control its quality.I
- There is a commercial element to the let (i.e. it is not social housing or not-for-profit arrangement, or one where the domestic dwelling is not the primary commercial arrangement (for example a tied cottage) where the tenant has complete control of the supply and its maintenance).
Public water supplies
Most people within North East Derbyshire are supplied with drinking water from mains supply called a 'Public Water Supply'. Public water supplies are those supplies which are provided by a water company such Sever Trent or Yorkshire Water.
North East Derbyshire District Council is not responsible for sampling and assessing the quality of water from public water supplies. If you are supplied by a public water supply and have a question about or are concerned about the quality of the water you are receiving you should contact the water company which provides your water supply.
Drinking Water Inspectorate (opens new window) oversees the quality of public water supplies. The Drinking Water Inspectorate can be contacted on 030 0068 6400 or through their website.
Drinking water for events/festivals
As an event organiser you are responsible for ensuring the quality of the drinking water is safe. Details of how you manage the water supply at an event should be contained within the Event Management Plan.
Water points must have clear access, be clearly marked, be lit at night and have self closing taps. The ground around the water point should be well drained. If it's not, you will need to take steps to deal with ground saturation.
As a general rule, you will need one water point per 3,000 visitors and one water point per 10 caterers.
If you are using an existing water supply, you will need to make sure it is suitable for human consumption. Just because there's a tap doesn't necessarily mean that the water is safe.
Ideally the water for your event should be provided by mains-piped supply. If this isn't possible, you can use clean, properly maintained portable water tanks instead.
Drinking water is especially important at outdoor events where people can easily become dehydrated, but all events need to provide access to adequate supplies of clean water.