Guidance documents

Regulation 8 – Questions and Answers

Information note on regulation 8 (revised version)

1Why has the Inspectorate decided to remove the old regulation 8 guidance and produce new guidance?The Inspectorate revised its guidance to reflect Defra’s review of the legal interpretation of regulation 8.
2When do these changes come into force?Immediately
3Does the Inspectorate understand how much extra work this is going to cause local authorities?The Inspectorate knows that local authorities take their statutory duty to protect public health of private water supplies very seriously. Achieving how these duties are met is a matter for local authorities to plan, manage and budget for.
4How are local authority officers expected to determine whether a distribution system presents a water quality risk or not when they are not trained water fittings inspectors.Local authorities should use the Inspectorate’s risk assessment tool for regulation 8 supplies. Local water companies may be willing to assist with these inspections or at least provide advice if asked.
5How do local authorities establish whether or not they have regulation 8 supplies in their areas?Local authorities are advised to consider any premises and situations in their area where regulation 8 may be applicable using the Inspectorate’s guidance. Whilst it is not a regulatory requirement for local authorities to proactively seek out regulation 8 supplies, or any other private water supplies, they are required to investigate if any private water supply is suspected to be unwholesome (regulations 16(1)) and serve a notice under regulation 18 (20 in Wales) if any private water supply constitutes a danger to human health. Local authorities are also advised to investigate any potential risk to consumers under their wider duties to protect human health. Should any previously unknown regulation 8 supplies emerge through these investigations or any other means the local authority must add these supplies to their records and regulate them accordingly.
6Why are regulation 8 supplies deemed private water supplies when the water comes from a supply system that is owned by a water company?Until the regulation of onward distribution of water was included into the private water supplies regulations under regulation 8 in 2009/2010, the water quality of a supply to someone receiving a mains supply via someone other than a water company was not regulated. This meant that the water was not subject to any legal requirement for it to be safe to consume/use. Inclusion of onward distribution into the private water supplies regulations meant that local authorities had duties to monitor, and risk assess these supplies to ensure they did not present a potential (or actual) danger to health. It also gave them powers to act when they were unwholesome and a potential danger to health. All regulation 8 supplies fall to be regulated by local authorities.
7Will local authorities be expected to regulate water supplied via a common supply pipe where historically one person has received an invoice from the water company, and they have then charged (or not) their neighbours?Only where water is physically being further distributed by someone that is not a water company customer to properties where the owner/occupier is not on the water company’s billing list. If the common supply pipe leads into a privately owned distribution system, it will be a regulation 8 supply. Usually, people on a common supply pipe receive water directly from the water undertaker’s supply system via that common pipe, not via a privately owned distribution system and in these cases, this is not a regulation 8 supply. If a consumer on a shared supply pipe receives their water bill from a water company, they are not on a regulation 8 supply.
8Why do water companies not use their existing powers under the Water Industry Act to disconnect unlicensed regulation 8 supplies?Any unlicensed onward distribution of water will go unrecognised until it is found. Water companies may not know that there is an unlicensed onward distribution of water and even if they do know, their powers to disconnect are limited. Under the Water Industry Act they can only disconnect in certain circumstances. Water companies may not be aware of section 66(I) of the Water Industry Act 1991 which prohibits onward distribution unless they are exempt under the Water Supply (Exceptions from Supply System Prohibitions) Regulations 2005. They will be made aware of these regulations with the publication of the new regulation 8 guidance.
9Regulation 8 supplies are fed from water company supply systems, so why are the local authorities expected to monitor and risk assess, not the water company?Although the water originates from a water company supply system, the end users are not water company customers. The fact that the water is being onwardly distributed by someone other than the water company makes it subject to the requirements of regulation 8 of The Private Water Supplies Regulations. These place the duty to monitor, and risk assess such supplies on the local authority.
10Would a temporary event, such as a music festival, that is supplied by mains water be a regulation 8 supply?Yes, in situations where the event organiser is further distributing the mains water to others for any domestic purposes at one or more points on any land where the event is being held.
11Which parameters should be included when sampling a regulation 8 supply?Local authorities are advised to use the regulation 10 parameters as a basic set of parameters, although this is not mandatory. The regulatory requirement is that test parameters should be informed by the risk assessment. Similarly, the frequency of testing should be determined by the risk assessment.
12How does a local authority find out which regulation 8 supplies existed before 31 July 2002?Check with the relevant water company for any legal agreement entered prior to 2002. Whether one exists or not, the supply must still be risk assessed and monitored as a regulation 8 supply.
13How does this affect the Water Resale Order (issued under section 150 of the Water Industry Act 1991)?The Water Resale Order protects domestic customers from overcharging when they are the end users of water that is resold. Resellers are third parties (such as landlords), who charge their tenants for water and sewerage services that they receive from a water company. Where the water is distributed via a private distribution network, these will also be regulation 8 supplies.
Enquiries about the Water Resale Order should be directed to Ofwat.
14Are local authorities expected to check that suppliers are licensed water companies?No.
15Supplies to what kind of premises might fall within scope of regulation 8?Local authorities are required to determine which circumstances apply and which do not, using the guidance provided. Supply arrangements are likely to differ from one site to another. However, sites where premises may be served by regulation 8 supplies include the following, but this list is not exhaustive.
– Caravan parks.
– Mobile homes sites.
– Camp sites.
– Airports.
– Shopping centres.
16Is there a training course to explain the revised interpretation of regulation 8 supplies?The Inspectorate anticipates running a Microsoft Teams Information session on regulation 8 in early 2024.
17I receive a regulation 8 supply. What should I do?Contact your local authority.