The majority of private water supplies in England and Wales supply only a single dwelling, where the water is used exclusively for domestic purposes (e.g. where the water is used for cooking, drinking, food preparation, bathing, showering and laundry) and where the water is not used for any commercial activity (such as bed and breakfast or tea shop/cafe). Some examples of single dwellings include the following (this list is illustrative and is not exhaustive):
- a house (detached, semi-detached, terraced)
- a bungalow/chalet (detached, semi-detached)
- flats/apartments (where the supply feeds a single residence only)
The regulations in England and Wales do not require monitoring to be undertaken at these supplies unless the local authority is requested to do so by the owner or occupier of the dwelling. If monitoring is requested the local authority should test for the following parameters as a minimum:
- Escherichia coli (E.coli)
- hydrogen ion (pH value)
The regulations make provision for local authorities to recover their costs for any monitoring requested. In Wales these fees cannot exceed the maximum specified in the regulations.
A local authority may monitor a private supply to a single dwelling, for example if they are concerned that the supply presents a potential danger to human health. However in this instance they cannot charge the owner or occupier the cost of conducting this monitoring.
If the monitoring identifies a potential danger to human health, the local authority must serve a regulation 18 (20 in Wales) notice to protect public health. A local authority must serve a section 80 notice if the water is unwholesome when remedial work is not completed within 28 days of the local authority becoming aware of the sample failure.
It should be noted that the assessment of water quality from a sample is limited to the parameters being tested at the time. Furthermore water quality may be variable over time for a number of reasons (e.g. seasonal changes) and consequently a sample will only be representative of the quality of the water in the snapshot of time it was taken. Sample results are best used in conjunction with a risk assessment to judge the safety of a supply.
Risk Assessment Requirements
The Regulations do not require local authorities to conduct risk assessments for private supplies serving only single dwellings used exclusively for domestic purposes unless they are requested to do so by the owner or occupier (including a tenant).
If the risk assessment identifies a risk to human health then the local authority will need to test the quality of the supply by taking a sample/samples for analysis. This analysis may incur additional costs. The local authority must serve a notice in accordance with regulation 18 (20 in Wales) when a supply is a potential risk to human health.
Supplies to rented single dwellings, and those where the water is used as part of a commercial or public activity:
If the water at a dwelling is being used as part of a commercial or public activity including, in some cases, where the dwelling is being rented by tenants (including short term lets, such as holiday cottages or bed and breakfast accommodation), monitoring and risk assessment is required. Dwellings where the water is being used for other commercial, or public activities, include those where part of the premises is open to the public (e.g. garden party) or where food or drink is being prepared, sold and/or consumed by the public (see guidance on regulation 9 in England) will require risk assessing every five years, and monitoring in all cases.
If the water at a dwelling is being used as part of a commercial or public activity and/or is being rented by tenants (including short term lets, such as holiday cottages or bed and breakfast accommodation), monitoring and risk assessment must be carried out as applicable: For tenanted single dwellings see guidance for Regulation 11 (Wales) and for those where the water is being consumed as part of a commercial or public activity (e.g. a dwelling being used as a tea shop), see Regulation 9 (Wales).
For further information then please contact your local authority.