Scotland’s drinking water quality remains high

Issued on behalf of the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland.

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) for Scotland’s latest annual report shows that Scottish Water’s compliance with the stringent standards for drinking water is extremely high at 99.91%.

Scottish Water take and analyse samples of drinking water from across Scotland 365 days a year. The report on Drinking Water Quality in Scotland 2016 states that a total of 311,560 regulatory tests were carried out on Scotland’s drinking water last year. Of those taken from samples at consumers’ taps, 99.91% met the required standards. This is similar to last year, and a significant improvement on 2002, the year Scottish Water was formed, when only 99.28% of tests complied.

The DWQR’s role is to ensure that drinking water supplies comply with regulatory requirements. In 2016, DWQR staff carried out 17 technical inspections and responded to 86 contacts from consumers. Of the 798 event notifications received from Scottish Water, most were classified as not significant, but 26 were declared incidents and investigated in more detail – these numbers represent a reduction on 2015. 

Sue Petch the Drinking Water Quality Regulator said:

“Consumers can be confident that when they turn on the tap, the product they receive meets some of the strictest water quality standards in the world. I am also pleased to report that the service consumers receive from Scottish Water when they do have an issue with the quality of their water supply has improved in recent years.

This year I have been struck by the many excellent initiatives within the company to apply science to gain a better understanding of water quality and treatment processes. This work will deliver benefits in ensuring processes are more resilient and improve the service received by consumers. I am especially keen to see a reduction in the number of water quality incidents reported to us by Scottish Water.”


A full copy of Drinking Water Quality in Scotland 2016 is available at

Drinking water quality regulation began in Scotland in 1991 and drinking water quality was monitored by the Scottish Executive and its predecessor before the role of DWQR was created in 2002, at the same time as Scottish Water. An annual report is presented to Scottish Ministers detailing the assessment of drinking water quality during the previous year. This is the 15th annual report.

The DWQR is independent of Scottish Ministers and ensures that the drinking water quality duties imposed on Scottish Water are complied with. DWQR reviews water quality data from samples taken by Scottish Water and undertakes targeted audits examining all aspects of its operations. The Regulator also supervises enforcement of the Private Water Supply Regulations by local authorities (detailed in a separate report to be published in September).

Where drinking water does not meet the required standard, the Regulator has powers to investigate and ensure problems are resolved. This can involve taking enforcement action or prosecution.

The DWQR also has a role in helping to define Scottish Water’s investment programme and is committed to ensuring that drinking water supplies in Scotland are of the highest possible standard.


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