Guidance for Local Authorities in developing Private Water Supplies Sampling Manuals

Local authorities should use the Scheme Manual as the basis for developing their own local version of it for their sampling officers. The sampling procedures should however not materially change. An MS Word version of the manual is provided below, as a template to assist with this process.

Word template for local authorities to make local manual

In making local adaptions local authorities should observe the following guidance.

  • Maintain the methodology as per the scheme procedure wherever possible.
  • The order of sampling cannot be changed.
  • Microbiological methods must not change from the scheme manual.
  • Procedures for the transportation and handling of samples can be made more specific to local arrangements but must meet the overall regulatory requirements.
  • Any chemistry methodology can be changed where they can be justified via the accredited laboratory service provider.
  • Methods shown in the appendices are not part of the accreditation and are provided as examples of best practise for investigational sampling and to provide examples of record templates. These can be maintained or excluded as the local authority sees fit.
  • The addition of content related to local health and safety procedures and policy are optional.
  • The inclusion of other local sampling procedures that are above and beyond the requirements of the regulations may be added, where they are considered beneficial in meeting the regulatory requirement.

Please note that any deviations from the scheme manual will be subject to approval by the certification body as part of the assessment and certification process.

The sampling manual was developed for three reasons.

  • To allow local authority sampling officers to meet the sampling accreditation standards required by the Regulations.
  • To standardise sampling methodology across local authorities in England and Wales.
  • To facilitate recognised and published sampling best practise across local authorities in England and Wales.

It should be noted that whilst not all procedures detailed in the manual form part of the scheme accreditation (notably those in the manual appendices), all are based on Water Industry best practise methodology. The procedures contained within the manual appendices are provided to assist local authorities with their obligations under regulation 16 (18 in Wales) (Investigations) of the respective Private Water Supplies Regulations in England and Wales.

Local authorities will note the inclusion of on-site/field measurements (for example chlorine residuals, observations, odours etc.) as part of the sampling process and order of sampling, as detailed in the scheme manual. Whilst these methods do not form part of the scheme accreditation, their inclusion is intended to encourage good practise by virtue of timely identification of potential risks, which should be investigated as soon as possible. Regulation 16 (18 in Wales) requires that a local authority must carry out an investigation to establish the cause if it suspects that a private water supply is unwholesome or that an indicator parameter does not comply with the concentrations or values prescribed in the specified schedule.

The inclusion of chlorine residual measurements may also assist local authorities in identifying any mal practise by controllers of private water supplies of adding disinfectants to collection tanks or chambers in an uncontrolled manner, to ensure subsequent samples comply with the necessary microbiological standards.

The manual is not intended for commercial organisation. Should any such organisation choose to use a similar manual with the aim of attaining certification under the ‘Certification of Persons Scheme for sampling private water supplies’ then any deviations from the manual are taken at their own risk. It would be considered prudent to discuss with the scheme assessors, in advance, whether any changes made could have a material impact on the integrity of the sampling process.  The core requirements are outlined below.

  • The sample is representative of the quality of the water at the time of sampling.
  • The person taking the sample is doing so in accordance with a system of quality control to an appropriate standard.
  • The sample is not contaminated in the course of being taken.
  • The sample is kept at such a temperature and in such a condition as will secure that there is no material alteration of the concentration or value for the measurement or observation of which the sample is intended.
  • The sample is analysed whether at the time and place it is taken or as soon as reasonably practicable after it is taken – by or under supervision of a person who is competent to perform that task.
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