Private water supplies
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Private water supplies

What is a private water supply?

A private water supply (PWS) is a supply of water which is not provided by a water supplier (e.g. Yorkshire Water). The source of the supply may come from a:
  • Well
  • Borehole
  • Spring
  • River or stream
  • Lake or pond
  • Private distribution system (mains water privately distributed by a second party)
The supply may serve one property or several properties.

The Private Water Supply Regulations (2009) require the council to carry out risk assessments including sampling on most PWSs to ensure quality standards similar to those of mains water supplies. The council is permitted to recover the costs incurred for carrying out this work. For fees and charges please see the documents section on this page.

The risk assessment looks at a variety of factors to see if there is a significant risk of contamination to the water supply and if it is safe to drink. They must be done by the council or someone authorised to act on the council's behalf.

Private Water Supply users should register the supply with the with the council's Food and Health Team.
Tel: 0113 247 6286.
Email: food.safety@leeds.gov.uk
Post:  Food and Health Team, Environmental Action Services, Millshaw Park Way, Churwell, Leeds, LS11 0LS.​

Environment Agency and Water Abstraction Licences.

Should a supply extract greater than 20 cubic metres per day, a Water Abstraction Licence is required.

Click to expandWhat are the different types of private water supply?

The Regulations categorise PWSs into:

Commercial or large supplies.  Including businesses using water from a PWS. For example, bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday lets, pubs, dairies, hotels and food production premises.  Domestic supplies to more than 50 people are included in this category.

Small domestic supplies serving fewer than 50 people.  This includes supplies that serve more than 1 property that are not commercial premises. For example a borehole that provides water to five separate dwellings.

Single private dwellings.  A supply that provides water to one dwelling only. 

Private distribution networks.  Further distributed of mains water to third parties. For example, a customer of Yorkshire Water may distribute the water, utilising a network of pipes to a neighbour (a third party who is not a customer of Yorkshire Water). This setup is known as a private distribution network. 

The category of the supply dictates how frequently the supply should be risk assessed and monitored. ​​​​

Click to expandMonitoring and sampling

The Council is obliged to monitor PWSs. This is achieved, in part, by sampling the water from the supply.

Untreated water can contain microorganisms (from animal droppings, human sewage and the environment) or chemical contamination which may not be detectable by taste or smell. It is sensible to know what problems may be present in the water that you drink. Testing the water helps to discover these problems). 

The frequency and type of monitoring will be determined by the classification of your supply and the result of the risk assessment. A sample will be taken from a tap used to supply water for drinking and/or cooking. The water is assessed for both chemical and biological parameters which are set out in the Regulations.​​​

Click to expandRisk assessments and sampling

An environmental health officer / technical officer from the Council conducts risk assessments of supplies. Risk assessments are ordinarily completed once every 5 years. However, the period between risk assessments can be changed if it is necessary. 

Council staff also carry out the sampling of supplies. The frequency of sampling depends on the category of the supply and the quantity of water used, ranging from once every 5 years to 4 times per year. The samples are analysed by a UKAS accredited lab. The costs incurred are recharged to the users of the supply.​​ ​​​​

Click to expandWhat if my water supply is found to be poor quality?

If the results of monitoring show that the supply has failed to meet the standards set out in the Regulations further action will be required, such as an investigation and remedial works by the supply users. Improvements might be required at the source itself, to the pipes, tanks or to fittings inside your home.

Click to expandWhat if my water is a risk to human health?

In the event of failure, where a supply is found to be ‘unwholesome’ or a ‘risk to human health’, a Restriction or Improvement Notice may be served on the relevant person. The Notice will prohibit or restrict the supply i.e. stop it’s use or require it to be boiled before consumption and/or require works to be carried out. The Notice will be specific for the supply dependi​ng on the type of failure and/or the outcome of the investigation. It is an offence to breach or fail to comply with a Notice.​

Click to expandCan I build up immunity to my water?

People can build up resistance to some bacteria. However, you cannot build up resistance to pathogenic bacteria. Should the supply be at risk of contamination from animal faeces or chemical contaminants, the water will not be safe to drink. A safe to drink supply is always required, as visitors will not have built up immunity, particularly if they are young or unwell.

Click to expandCan I appeal?

Appeals can be made to the Magistrates' Court or the Secretary of State depending on which notice is served.

Click to expandWhat if the supply outlet is not on my land?

The owner of the private water supply also has responsibilities for providing safe water to the users even if the supply outlet (tap) is not on their land.

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