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Private Water Supplies

A private water supply (PWS) is any water supply which is not provided by a water company (water undertaker) and which is not considered to be a "mains" supply. PWS's can be obtained from a variety of sources including springs, wells, boreholes, rivers, lakes and rainwater.

All PWS can pose a potential threat to health unless they are properly protected and treated.  Unlike mains water supplies, many private supplies are not treated to remove contamination. You may not be able to tell whether your water is safe as contamination may not show as smell, taste or colour in the water.  

What controls are there on the use of a PWS?

The legislation that sets out responsibilities for both the owner of a PWS and the Local Authority is The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016. The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) monitor the duties of Sedgemoor District Council and further information on the Regulations and DWI can be found on the links at the bottom of this page.

Please note the Water Supply Authorities (Wessex Water and Bristol Water) are responsible for the public water supply.

Are there many properties with a private supply?

This varies from District to District. In Sedgemoor District Council there are just over 100 properties with a private supply. Most of these are domestic but approximately a fifth are commercial.

Is water from a private supply fit to drink?

Yes. If properly managed and treated there should be no reason why a PWS is not safe to drink.  Sedgemoor District Council has a duty under The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 to sample and test certain private water supplies intended for human consumption.

What is a Risk Assessment?

Sedgemoor DC is required to carry out a risk assessment on certain types of PWS. A risk assessment is a check on the condition of the supply. It involves looking at the source of the supply and the surrounding area and anticipating what might lead to contamination. It will also involve looking at storage tanks, pipework and treatment systems. The risk assessment identifies any actual or potential hazards that may affect the health of those drinking the water, so that improvements can be made to ensure the quality of the water supply and safeguard the health of those using it.

Is the water ever tested to see if it is fit to drink?

Yes. Sedgemoor District Council has a duty to sample and test private water supplies that are used for drinking or used in food production. The frequency of the tests will depend on the size of the supply and the use that it is put to. Consequently, a large, commercial supply will be sampled several times per year, whereas a small supply for a single property would only be tested every few years.

Which supplies are sampled from and tested?

There are three main types of supplies:

  1. Large supplies and supplies as part of a commercial or public activity.  For example, if you are renting a property with a private supply then this would count as a commercial supply. 
  2. Other private supplies;  this encompasses a private supply which is shared/distributed between several properties.
  3. A private supply to a single privately owned dwelling.  In this case, the Local Authority is only required to conduct sampling and analysis if requested to do so by the owner or occupier of that dwelling.

Who pays for the water testing?

The Council is not responsible for the costs incurred for testing of private water supplies.

The costs must be borne by the person or persons responsible for maintaining the supply.  The person responsible for payment will vary depending on the ownership of the source and users of the supply. 

I have a private water supply. Can I have it tested?

Yes. For information about the range of tests available and the associated costs, please see our Scale of Charges (available here: Finance documents) or contact us if you have any queries

How to report a problem

You can either call the number below, or you can report online here:  Report a problem with a Private Water Supply

Legislation and Guidance