Private water supplies

Around 3% of Scotland’s population get their drinking water from private water supplies, not owned or operated by Scottish Water. Most are in remote and rural areas and come from sources like lochs, burns, or boreholes.

Helping communities affected by water scarcity

Private water supplies are increasingly vulnerable to water scarcity and poor water quality due to the  impacts of climate change.   

To support affected communities, we are: 

  • helping them connect to the public water network, if eligible, by removing some of the costs and uncertainty involved
  • improving the quality of existing private water supplies

Private water supply connections project

Our private water supply connections project is helping communities affected by water scarcity to connect to the public water network.

This includes:

  • a Scotland-wide scheme
  • a pilot project in Aberdeenshire

Through these projects we aim to:

  • improve Scotland’s resilience to water scarcity
  • better understand the issues involved in extending the public water network to communities reliant on private water supplies
  • learn lessons for future climate change adaptation projects

We are leading this project in partnership with Scottish Water, Consumer Scotland and local councils.

Scotland-wide scheme

Local councils can nominate communities affected by water scarcity for a water impact assessment from Scottish Water. This will help decide if a community can be shortlisted for connection.

Our funding will cover:

  • the cost of carrying out water impact assessments to determine if the public water network can meet the demands of new consumers – this can cost up to £25,000 – and whether it is cost effective to extend it
  • if shortlisted and there is a general willingness among the community to connect, extending the public water network to property boundaries

The funding does not cover the cost of connecting the water supply from property boundaries to the stop valves located within properties. This is because the funding has come from our capital budget which must be invested in public assets and infrastructure.

Householders will need to pay to extend the connection to the stop valve in their property.

Aberdeenshire pilot

In addition to the Scotland-wide scheme, we are leading a separate pilot project in Aberdeenshire to connect private water supplies to the public water network.

Aberdeenshire was chosen for the pilot because it is where over a third of Scotland’s private water supplies are located, and where water scarcity issues are most prominent.

Five projects were nominated for potential connection, with three shortlisted to have the public water network extended into their area.

Private Water Supply Grant Scheme

We provide funding to local councils to deliver the Private Water Supply Grant Scheme.

This offers grants of up to £800 to eligible households and businesses to improve their existing private water supply. You can apply for this through your local council website.

Check how to apply for a Private Water Supply Grant at

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