Issued on behalf of Scotland’s Drinking Water Quality Regulator.
Most private water supplies in Scotland comply with drinking water standards but a significant minority need to make further improvements, according to the latest report from Scotland’s Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR).
Around 3.4 per cent of the Scottish population receive their water from a private water supply rather than from Scottish Water. The care and maintenance of these supplies is the responsibility of the owners and users. Some of these supplies serve hotels, tourist accommodation and other businesses.
In 2015, a total of 42,361 tests were taken from Type A private water supplies – those serving more than 50 people or a commercial activity. Of these, 95 per cent met the required standard. However, 12.3 per cent of samples taken from Type A supplies for E. coli last year did not comply with the standard, which indicates they are not receiving the appropriate treatment necessary to make the water safe. There has been a small improvement on last year’s figure of 13.4 per cent.
Sue Petch the Drinking Water Quality Regulator said:
“It is important that private water supplies are well managed and maintained so that they are safe to drink. There is much that people responsible for a private water supply can do to protect water sources and ensure that there is an appropriate and robust treatment process in place – and although E. coli levels have improved on last year, there is still plenty of opportunity for improvement. I am working with local authorities and other stakeholders to improve awareness and explain how people can take care of their private water supply. I urge everyone with a private water supply to take advantage of the support and advice that can be accessed through their local environmental health department.”
"Where tourist accommodation is served by a private water supply, a notice is required to be displayed to make visitors aware. Those wishing to improve their private supply can make use of grant funding provided by the Scottish Government. Anyone seeking advice or financial support can access this by contacting the environmental health department of their local authority."
A full copy of Drinking Water Quality in Scotland – Private Water Supplies 2015 is available at www.dwqr.org.uk
- Private Water Supplies are regulated by local authorities – DWQR has a role to supervise this and provide support and advice.
- The DWQR is independent of Scottish Ministers and exists to enforce the drinking water quality regulations and ensure that drinking water quality in Scotland is of the highest possible standard. DWQR reviews water quality data from samples taken by Scottish Water and undertakes targeted audits examining all aspects of its operations. An annual report is presented to Scottish Ministers detailing the assessment of drinking water quality during the previous year for both public and private water supplies.
- It is estimated that around 150,000 people rely on a private water supply for their drinking water, with many thousands more using them occasionally, typically in holiday accommodation. Type A private water supplies provide more than 10 cubic metres per day, serve greater than 50 people or a commercial or public activity. Type A supplies must be risk assessed and sampled annually. Smaller Type B supplies typically serve one or two private dwellings and are sampled at the request of the owner or user.
- Some of these supplies have limited or no treatment. The main risk to health comes from microorganisms, including E. coli. The regulations governing the quality of private water supplies are the Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006.
- Various treatment options are available for private water supplies. Disinfection often uses ultra-violet light, which can be relatively simple to install and maintain, but may require pre-filtration to remove substances such as iron, manganese and natural colour in the water. All treatment processes require some maintenance and specialist advice may need to be sought.
- A Scottish Government grant of £800 per property is available for improving private water supplies. This may be accessed, along with advice on improving a private water supply, by contacting the environmental health department of the relevant local authority.