Private water supplies

A guide for consumers, businesses and tourists

We regulate all private water supplies using the Private Water Supply (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and the Water (Scotland) Act 1980.

The following is a brief summary of what the law means to anyone with a private drinking water supply:

  • all private water supplies require to be registered with the council.
  • you can check the entry for your property by contacting us (see 'contact us' box).

Classifications of private water supplies

There are two classifications or 'types' as they are usually known:

  • Type 'A'
  • Type 'B'

Type 'A' - is any supply that serves 50 or more people or provides water to a commercial activity e.g. hotel, restaurant, bed and breakfast establishment or campsite. This means that the drinking water quality will be monitored and assessed against minimum legal standards.

Type 'B' - if you get your drinking water from a private supply that does not fall into the above description then you have a type 'B' supply and the drinking water quality only has to comply with the needs of the regulations.

Why should I get my drinking water tested and what does this involve?

You, your family and visitors to your home or business all have a right to expect safe, clean drinking water. Testing the water helps discover problems with your supply's quality. The two main groups of impurities that can affect drinking water quality are micro-organisms and chemicals.

  • if you are on a type 'A' supply, we will contact you to arrange a sampling appointment and advise if a charge is applicable.
  • if your are on a type 'B' supply, you must ask us to undertake a test. At the moment we won't charge you for this service but we reserve the right to regularly review our charging policy.

Where does the water in my private water supply come from?

Water can come from surface water sources such as rivers, streams or lochs. These supplies would normally require some form of water treatment before you could safely drink from them. Water may also come from below ground and are known as groundwaters. These include springs, boreholes and wells. Groundwaters, particularly form from deep sunk boreholes, can provide clean sources of water but it can be difficult to be sure of the source just by visual examination. For example, sometimes what appears to be a spring is really an outlet for field drains. In other cases, shallow wells are really getting water from just below the soil surface and so may be easily contaminated.

What is risk assessment and what benefits will it bring?

This is a condition check for your private water supply. It means looking at the source and the surrounding area to see what could go wrong with it and contaminate the supply. It also involves checking the storage tanks, any treatment systems and pipework. Risk assessment will benefit your knowledge of your supply and through implementation, improve overall water quality.

What is the owner/user risk assessment?

This is a means to identify real or potential contamination risks in order to take steps to remove or reduce the dangers, A simple to complete risk assessment  template is available from us upon request. We can assist you to complete your own risk assessment free of charge.

What information will help me to maintain or improve my supply?

Know your supply and look after it. This means looking at the source, pipework that conveys the water to your home or business, any storage tanks and the plumbing within your property. By knowing the component, you will be better placed to react to correct anything that's gone wrong.

The grant scheme and how to apply

Grants of up to £800 are available to help improve your private water supply and this is not means tested. Details about the application process are available upon request.

Information for tourists

If the premises you are staying in has a private water supply then the water will not have come from a statutory water supplier. This means the amount of water treatment may be different from the the water you drink at home. e.g. a private supply may not have chlorine added to control potentially harmful micro-organisms. You may wish to consider whether you need to take additional precautions to protect your or your family's health e.g. if you or or members of your party include very young children, elderly persons or people who are on medication for immunosuppression or immunocompromised conditions, you make wish to take precautions such as only using cooled, boiled water for drinking or brushing teeth.

Information for food businesses

The regulations define 'commercial activity' for food businesses and those served by a private water supply are deemed to be type 'A' supplies. In addition, Regulation (EC) No. 882/2004 states that an adequate supply of potable water which is to be used whenever necessary to ensure foodstuffs are not contaminated. Potable water means meeting the minimum requirements in Council Directive 98/83/EC (as amended by Regulation (EC) No. 1882/2003) on the quality of water for human consumption.

Please use the 'contact us' box if you have any questions. For more information, see 'other useful websites'.

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