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Private water supplies

The original Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 came into force on 1 January 2010. In England these regulations were replaced by the Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016  which came into force on 27 June 2016 and apply to all private water supplies intended for human consumption. This includes water for domestic purposes such as drinking, cooking, food preparation and washing, as well as water used for food production purposes.

These supplies include:

  • Water from a well or borehole or spring, which is supplied from someone other than a Water Undertaker or Licensed water supplier. 
  • Water supplied by Water Undertaker or Licensed water supplier, which is then further distributed by another person (a private distribution network).

Glass filled with drinking water

Council responsibilities

The Regulations require councils to:

  • Complete a risk assessment of all Private Water Supplies (PWS) in the first five years after the regulations come into force, except for supplies to a single non–commercial dwelling, unless a risk assessment is requested.
  • Monitor PWS.
  • Keep records of all PWS including Private Distribution Systems. The regulations set out procedures councils must follow if it considers a PWS is unwholesome, including a requirement to investigate the cause and inform the PWS user/s if the supply constitutes a potential danger to human health and give such user/s advice to allow them to minimise any such potential danger.
  • Liaise with the Public Health England - Health Protection Surrey and Sussex Team to seek advice on whether there is potential danger to human health. 


The Private Water Supplies Regulations, give a clear indication of the monitoring requirements from which councils can develop their annual sampling programme.

  • For small supplies of less than 10m3 /day the monitoring is based on the conclusions of the risk assessment.
  • Larger PWS, greater than 10m3 / day and any supplies that provide water for commercial activities will require check and audit monitoring from the first year.

Making improvements

Where a PWS requires improvement councils are encouraged to liaise informally with PWS Owner/Users to prevent a potential danger to human health. If there is an immediate public health issue or the Informal approach does not achieve this there are other options, including the serving of notices.

Private water supply charging policy

Councils can make reasonable charges, to cover their costs for carrying out their duties under the Regulations, up to maximum limits set out in the Regulations.

The Council charges for all the time taken and any additional costs to carry out duties under the regulations relevant to the private water supply up to the statutory maximum fees relevant to the service activities being undertaken.   

The charges for out sourced work are those charged by any laboratory or contractor undertaking any service duties on behalf of the Council and any service administration charges incurred up to the maximum fees relevant to the service activities being undertaken.

The statutory maximums are contained in schedule 5 of the regulations.