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Private water supplies and distribution

Advice for people with a private water supply


  • What is a Private Water Supply?
  • What is a Private Distribution Network?
  • Why is there a need to carry out a risk assessment and monitor (analyse a sample)
  • How often does a supply need to be monitored?

What is a Private Water Supply? 

In Colchester a private water supply is a supply that is not provided by Veolia, Essex and Suffolk Water or Anglian Water. The source of water may be from a well, borehole or spring. 

What is a Private Distribution Network? 

A private distribution network exists where a water undertaker such as Essex and Suffolk Water supply water up to the boundary of a property where it is then further distributed by a third party to others on a site. An example would be a caravan site. 

Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 

Private water supplies are very vulnerable to contamination and these regulations seek to ensure that private water supplies and private distribution networks provide water that is safe and wholesome. 

  • They impose duties upon a local authority to monitor supplies and carry out risk assessments.
  • They stipulate the frequency of monitoring and the parameters to be tested.
  • They require local authorities to carry out investigations and take action when supplies fail to meet the required standards.
  • They require the local authority to keep a register of all private water supplies and private distribution networks in its area.
  • They allow councils to recover the cost of the work they carry out. For a list of our current costs please click on the link opposite. 

Why is there a need to carry out a risk assessment and monitor (analyse a sample) 

Foremost there is a need to comply with the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009. These regulations implement EU Council Directive 98/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption. 

Before these regulations were introduced a private water supply may have been sampled just once a year. Factors such as the weather may have influenced the result and so it is thought to be an unreliable approach to ensuring water safety. 

You may not be aware that your supply has become contaminated. Contamination can be bacteriological such as from raw sewage or chemical such as from fertiliser run of. These may cause illness, especially to vulnerable people, young children and visitors and it is the owner's responsibility to ensure their supply is kept safe. 

The new regulations seek to achieve a multi layer approach in ensuring water safety. A risk assessment will look at the system as a whole. It looks at the catchment, through the distribution and storage systems, at any disinfection apparatus and finally to the tap. Its purpose is to establish whether there is a significant risk of supplying water that would constitute a potential danger to human health. 

By when and then how frequently must risk assessments be carried out? 

All private water supplies (except those to a single dwelling not used for a commercial activity) must now carry out a risk assessment by 2015 and subsequently every 5 years. 

How often does a supply need to be monitored? 

This depends upon the classification of the supply, those: 

  • Using 10m3 per day or more (large supplies) 
  • Supplied for use in a commercial activity or 
  • Supplied to a public premises 

Will require: 

  • Audit monitoring, used to assess the risk from a comprehensive set of parameters. 
  • Check monitoring, used to test for fewer but important parameters. 

The frequency of these monitoring types depends upon the volume of water used per day. 

Other private supplies are required to be monitored for five basic parameters plus any others that are thought to be necessary from the risk assessment. The monitoring must take place every 5 years or more frequently if the risk assessment determines it to be necessary. 

Single dwellings not used for any commercial activity 

These properties will only be risk assessed and or sampled at the owner's request. 

What do we need to do? 

Firstly you need to ensure that your supply is registered with the council. Please complete the form below or call 01206 282837 to register: 

Private Water Supplies Registration Form

The Council is required to carry out the risk assessments by 2015 and to monitor your supply. You are responsible for your supply, please call on 01206 282837 to arrange an appointment or for further information. 

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