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Private water supplies

By law drinking water must be wholesome at the time of supply. Wholesomeness is defined by reference to drinking water quality standards and other requirements set out in the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2000 (as amended) which apply in England.

The legal framework -private water supplies

The Water Industry Act 1991 defines water supplies that are not provided by statutorily appointed water companies (Anglian Water in our region) as private water supplies. Private water supplies are highly variable in their circumstances and size. About one per cent of the population nationally rely on a private supply and most of these are in rural and remote parts of the countryside. However, many more people will have some contact with private water supplies as these can be used in the manufacture of certain foods and beverages, and serve various public buildings such as hospitals and hotels or, more commonly, campsites and leisure parks.

Private water supply - private distribution systems (PDS)

It is the duty of local authorities in relation to any known private distribution system (PDS) in their area to carry out a risk assessment and monitor the water supply on the basis of the specific risk assessment.

Definition of a private distribution system (PDS)

Water law recognises that the practicalities of securing a domestic supply of water to every dwelling are such that public or private water supplies cannot be defined by reference to the physical assets or the methodology involved in the collection and distribution of water to consumers. Instead, and in keeping with the intention of the law (namely the protection of public health), the law provides for a regime of regulation that focuses on securing the safe management and control of all water supplies. However one consequence of this comprehensive legal framework for identifying and remediating an unwholesome private water supply has been the need for a practical working definition of a PDS to support all those concerned (local authorities, water suppliers and private supply owners/operators) with the task of identifying whether any given water supply arrangement constitutes either a public water supply or a private distribution system.

Private distribution system - practical working definition

A private distribution system is a particular type of distribution system which comprises two parts in relation to asset ownership, management or control: the first part comprises the assets used by a water undertaker or combined licensee to deliver water to a point on a premises (known as the primary building or boundary) and the second part comprises the assets used by the PDS owner, another company, organisation or person who is not the licensed undertaker in order to deliver water to other buildings, domiciles, draw off points , households , properties (known as secondary buildings ) via pipes , or otherwise (i.e. by tanker, static tank) usually but not exclusively for commercial purposes.

For example: A water supply company may provide water by public main to a caravan park, but this may then be further distributed on the caravan site by a private distribution system to each caravan unit.

Local authority inspection charges

Regulation 21 of the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 permits Local Authorities to recover the costs associated with providing particular services to private supply owners/operators in fulfillment of their duties under the Regulations. These duties include carrying out risk assessments, investigations, and taking and analysing samples. Schedule 5 of the Regulations set out these services and the maximum fees that can be charged. In addition to the specified maximum, the charges made by local authorities can only reflect the reasonable cost of providing the service.

pdf icon Private Water Supply - Charging Scheme [12kb]