Home > All Services > Environment > Environmental Protection > Private Water Supplies

Private Water Supplies


To make a complaint or enquiry about private water supplies use this online form

On this page you will find information on the following relating to private water supplies

What is a private water supply?

A private water supply is any water supply which is not provided by a water utility company. The source of the supply may come from:

  • wells
  • boreholes
  • springs
  • rivers or streams
  • lakes or ponds
  • a private distribution system (mains water which is privately distributed by a second party).

The supply may serve just one property or several properties through a network of pipes.

All private water supplies must be registered with the council. Relevant details are required to be kept on a Public Register. See useful documents menu.

Register a Private Water Supply

To register your private water supply please complete and return this form: Private Water Supplies Registration Form.

and return it to us either by email or in the post. We are also required by the Regulations to keep a record of all private water supplies within our district.

If you have a private water supply, or are planning to install one, you must register the supply with us. This is for a number of reasons:

Private water supplies fall into one of four categories, each requiring different levels of monitoring by local authorities. Once your private water supply is registered, we use this information to ensure that the water supply is being monitored sufficiently. Please be aware, if the property being served by a private water supply has a commercial use, for example, a rented property, holiday let or a bed and breakfast, or you intend to change to a commercial use, you need to tell us immediately.

Councils are consulted on many activities, such as planning applications, which could affect private water supplies if these activities are located close to the source of the supply. It is therefore essential that we are aware of the location of private water supplies so we can access this information when making a decision.

It is also essential that we are able to contact everyone who may be using the water supply in the event of a problem with the supply.

Fees charged by the Council

The Council will charge the costs of carrying out their duties under these regulations to those responsible for the supply. Where part of a shared supply is used by some commercial activity the charges may be divided between the commercial and non-commercial properties proportionally. A breakdown of the council’s charges in respect of private water supplies is included below, along with the maximum fee allowed to be charged under the regulations.  For the 2019/20 financial year, charges will reflect the actual costs incurred by the Council in terms of officer time, mileage and laboratory costs.




Risk Assessment

£30 per hour plus mileage

Risk assessments will be carried out every five years.

Sampling Visit

£30 per hour plus mileage

Charge for a visit to take a sample


£30 per hour plus mileage

Carried out in the event of test failure.

Sample analysis

Laboratory fees (plus transport fees)

Check monitoring is carried out to ensure that water complies with standards. Where possible it is carried out at the same time as any requirement for audit monitoring, to keep cost down.

Sampling Process and Regulations

The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 (as amended)

The Private Water Supplies Regulations came into force in January 2010 and were updated in 2018. They seek to further safeguard public health by ensuing that private water supplies are wholesome and safe to drink. The new regulations aim to protect health and they require quality standards similar to those of mains water supply. They require each supply - unless it supplies only one property - to undergo a risk assessment.

Risk assessment is a proactive approach identifying potential hazards to human health. The information analysed in the assessment will be recorded in a report specific to your private water supply. It allows action to be taken to manage risks through a multi-barrier approach, involving source protection, treatment of the source water and management of the distribution network to prevent contaminants entering the supply system. The regulations cover all private supplies, although those serving a single dwelling will only be risk assessed and sampled upon request of the owner or occupier.

The council will charge for this work, please see the charges table.

Risk Assessments

The regulations require each supply (excluding single private domestic dwellings) to undergo a risk assessment every five years, to determine how regularly the supply needs to be tested and for which parameters (i.e. which types of bacteria, chemicals etc.) This involves surveying the supply, from the source through to point-of-use, to identify factors that could lead to contamination of the supply. Factors influencing sampling requirements include the type of source (borehole, well etc.), how well it is protected, the treatment methods in place, the number of people served by the supply and the intended use of the water.

Risk assessments will normally be carried out by prior appointment, and where possible details of what needs to be inspected/considered will be provided prior to the site visit. This is to ensure that the owner or occupier has the opportunity to arrange access to the various parts of the water system, arrange for someone with detailed knowledge of the system to attend, and generally reduce the amount of time we are required to be on site, thereby also reducing the cost.


Samples from private water supplies will normally be taken from a consumer tap and then sent for analysis at an approved laboratory. The sampling frequency and the extent of analysis needed will depend on the results of the risk assessment.

  • Larger supplies (using more than 10 cubic metres of water per day) and those serving commercial premises are now required to undergo annual ‘check monitoring’, as well as more extensive ‘audit monitoring’.
  • Small supplies (using less than 10 cubic metres of water per day) are monitored at least once every five years and more frequently if shown to be necessary by the risk assessment. New supplies must be monitored for at least three consecutive years.
  • Supplies serving only an individual domestic dwelling will only be risk assessed and tested at the request of the owner or occupier.


Any sample that fails to meet the prescribed concentrations laid out in the Private Water Supply Regulations must have an investigation to determine the reason for the failure and to identify what action is needed to improve the supply. This may mean further sampling being conducted at the source, holding tanks and/or other parts of the infrastructure to assist the investigation.

If a wholesome supply cannot be achieved through implementing physical changes to the supply network, the water will require treatment before use. A wide range of treatment options are available.


In the event of failure, where a supply is found to be ‘unwholesome’ or a ‘risk to human health’, a notice will be served either prohibiting or restricting the supply, as appropriate. The notice will be specific for each supply that has a failure of standards. This notice can be appealed in a Magistrate’s Court and/or by appeal to the Secretary of State, but the notice will remain in force until either it has been complied with or it is suspended by the Courts/Secretary of State.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a commercial/large supply?

The commercial/large category includes any business that supplies water from a private water supply to the public for drinking, washing, food preparation, or where the water is used in a way that it is likely to enter the human food chain. This category includes rented properties, B&B, holiday lets, pubs, food production premises. Also within this category are domestic private water supplies using more than 10 cubic metres of water per day.

Can I do the risk assessment and sampling myself?

Risk assessments can only be performed by the local authority or by persons the local authority has deemed competent. The local authority is responsible for ensuing sampling is completed according to legislation, therefore if you would like another company to take and analyse samples of your private water supply, the local authority will need to approve the sampling company and the parameters to be analysed, prior to samples being taken. The analysis must comply with the new legislation. The local authority will need to be sent the result certificates directly from the laboratory.

Why do you need a risk assessment of your private water supply?

A risk assessment is needed to:

  • protect public health
  • maintain public/customer confidence in drinking water
  • identify the legal duty and the responsibility of the water supplier

The risk assessment will illustrate how to minimise the potential risks to your supply and to human health, and provide adequate information to allow audit monitoring parameters to be identified.

On completion of your risk assessment we will explain how often the supply needs to be sampled, based on the risks identified. Every five years the risk assessment will be reviewed. You will receive the assessment report and a copy will be retained for 30 years at the council.

The Private Water Supplies Regulations impose a tighter legal duty for monitoring of your supply, and one of the functions of the risk assessment is to identify any parameter (that is,. types of bacteria, chemicals etc.) which could pose a potential risk to human health. The parameters identified can then be monitored.

How long will the assessment take?

The risk assessment will typically take approximately two hours. Ideally the person responsible for the supply should be present so that the risk assessment can be conducted as quickly and efficiently as possible. During the risk assessment we will need access to the source of the supply i.e.. borehole, well, or spring, any collection chambers, holding/storage tanks including header tanks which may be found in roof spaces, and finally the point of use of the supply.

How much will the risk assessment cost?

See our schedule of fees for details.

How regularly will my supply need to be sampled?

Regulation Classification Frequency of sampling
Regulation 8 supplies Private Distribution System (may include caravan sites) Dependent on need, identified by risk assessment
Regulation 9 supplies Large or commercial supplies (including rental properties, holiday lets) To be determined by the volume of water supplied but at least twice per year.
Regulation 10 supplies Small domestic supplies (more than 1 address served)

New supplies dependent on volume of water and sampling results over a three year period.

For established historic supplies, at least once every five years or more frequently if the risk assessment identifies a need.

Regulation 10(3) supplies Single private dwelling (not provided as part of a commercial or public activity) No requirement for sampling– sampled at the request of the owner/occupier

Why should I register my private water supply with the local authority?

So that we can:

  • carry out risk assessment and monitoring if required under the The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 as amended.
  • advise the appropriate agencies to ensure there is no risk to your supply’s catchment area (for example, advising persons undertaking bio-solid spreading on land that there are private water supplies which may be affected)
  • inform you of potential contamination threats to aquifers that may serve your supply
  • notify you of any updates of legislation involving private water supplies and your responsibilities.

How can I keep my supply safe?

All parts of your supply should be routinely monitored and inspected to ensure that it is in good working order, and has not been interfered with or damaged. Any products or treatment used on the supply must be featured on the DWI list of approved products. The supply must be appropriately protected throughout, from source to point-of-use.  This should include a maintenance programme to clean the distribution system and storage tanks or header tanks, and to ensure that any treatment works are operating as they should and according to manufacturer’s guidelines.

What if I supply water to others?

If you supply water to others with or without a charge, for example other domestic premises, renting out holiday accommodation or to commercial premises with employees or food production it is your responsibility to ensure the water is wholesome and does not pose a risk to human health.

Should I get my supply checked by the Council?

Unless your supply serves a single domestic dwelling, your supply will be risk assessed and monitored by the council in the next five years. However, if you suspect that something is wrong with the supply or you would like to request a sample to be taken and analysed you can contact Environmental Protection to discuss your concerns and to arrange for any sampling to be carried out.

Further guidance on the Private Water Supplies Regulations (England) Regulations 2016 (as amended) is available on the Drinking Water Inspectorate website.

What are the different categories of private water supplies?

Large supplies (Regulation 9) - a water supply serving over 50 people; or produces more than 10 m³ per day of water; or is used for commercial purposes, for example, rented properties, holiday lets, a bed & breakfast; or is public premises. These supplies require sampling at least once a year and a risk assessment undertaken every five years. If you are a tenant in rented accommodation that is served by a private water supply, please check with your landlord, or us, that the private water supply is registered with us so we can check that the water supply is wholesome and safe to drink.

Small supplies (Regulation 10) - a water supply serving two or more premises; produces less than 10m³ of water; and is not used for commercial purposes, or for public premises. These supplies require sampling and a risk assessment every five years.

Single supplies (Regulation 10(3)) - a water supply that serves only one private domestic dwelling where no commercial activity takes place. (Rented properties would not fall into this category because of the commercial use). These supplies will only be sampled and risk assessed at the owner's request. This is often requested when people are looking to buy a property on a private water supply.

Private distribution systems  (Regulation 8) - a water supply that is supplied by a water company and then further distributed by the account holder to a third party, for example, caravan parks. These supplies require a risk assessment every five years and sampling at a frequency dependent of the outcome of the risk assessment.

Last updated 22 September 2020

Rate this page

We value your feedback. How do you rate the information on this page?

Good OK Poor

Back to the top of the page