Private drinking water supplies are water supplies which are not provided by the statutory water undertaker (mains water), but are the responsibility of their owners and users. Private supplies can be from a borehole, spring, well or originate from ground run-off. Each supply requires its own unique protection and treatment.
The quality of private water supplies can be variable. Some have adequate treatment and are well managed, but others present a risk to health due to the quality of the water or vulnerability of the supply to contamination.
Section 77 of the Water Industry Act 1991 requires a local authority to keep itself informed about the wholesomeness and sufficiency of every private water supply within its area. Each local authority achieves this by conducting its statutory duties which include undertaking risk assessments, investigations, authorisations and monitoring (sampling and analysis).
The legislation also makes provision for local authorities to charge fees to the relevant person(s) for conducting these duties.
If through these duties a local authority deems a private water supply to be unwholesome and/or insufficient then it has the power to serve statutory notices on the supply to require those responsible to undertake improvement works in order to mitigate against these risks.
Local authorities are under a statutory duty to provide reporting information relating to private water supplies to the Secretary of State. This submission of data is due on 31 January of every year, for records relating to supplies in their area during the previous calendar year.