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Private supplies of drinking water

A private water supply is any water supply which is not provided by a water company and which is not considered to be a ‘mains’ supply. All private water supplies must be registered with the council, who maintain a public register.

Private water supplies can be obtained from a variety of sources including:

  • springs
  • wells
  • boreholes
  • rivers and streams
  • lakes or ponds
  • a private distribution system (mains water which is privately distributed by a second party)

All private water supplies can pose a potential threat to health unless they are properly protected and treated. Unlike main water supplies, many private supplies are not treated to remove contamination. You may not be able to tell whether your water is safe as contamination may not show a smell, taste or colour of the water.

If you no longer want to use your private supply, you can contact Anglian Water (local water company) to discuss the feasibility of connecting to the public supply.

For further information and guidance visit the Drinking water inspectorate website.

Private Water Supplies Regulation 2016 (as amended)

Private water supplies are regulated by the  Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016 as amended by The Private Water Supplies (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2018.

At North East Lincolnshire Council the Environmental Protection Team is responsible for implementing these regulations.

The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016 (as amended) regulate all private water supplies and private distributions systems. The regulations aim to protect the health of people consuming water from the supply.

The regulations require that private water supplies meet the same standards as water from a mains water supply.

With the exception of private water supplies to single domestic dwellings the regulations require that the Council risk assesses each supply every five years and carry out periodic sampling of the water to assess its microbiological and chemical quality.

North East Lincolnshire Council must complete a risk assessment and sample a private water supply as soon as possible after we become aware of it. A private water supply must not be bought into use until the Council is satisfied the water does not constitute a potential danger to human health.

Private distribution network

The regulations also apply to some situations where a public supply is further distributed from a water company customer to other consumers occupying separate land, who are not on a water company billing list.  

The Council must risk assess private distribution networks every five years. The sampling and analysis of the water supplied will be carried out on the basis of the risk assessment.  Under these Regulations the Council will charge for the work it undertakes.

New private water supplies

When a new private water supply is commissioned, the Local Authority must be informed and for a supply serving more than one dwelling need to be satisfied that the water meets the statutory requirements. In addition the Environment Agency should also be informed.

Who sets the quality standards for water?

All households must have a good supply of clean, fresh water. The quality standards for private water supplies are set by the Government, and can be found in the Private Water Supplies Regulation 2016. In addition a consultation has taken place and reviewed by DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). The result of which now places a duty on Local Authorities to conduct risk assessments and monitoring of all large private water supplies from January 2010.

What is the supply tested for?

The water supply will be tested for various forms of contaminate that could be detrimental to public health. Examples of contaminates are micro-organisms (bacteria, viruses), chemicals (pesticides) and metals such as lead from pipework.

How often do I need to be sampled?

The frequency at which sampling will take place and the microbiological and chemical parameters for which the water will be analysed will be determined by the volume of water supplied, whether the water is used for a commercial activity or public premises and the results of the risk assessment.

With respect to private water supplies to a single dwelling the Council must risk assess the supply and sample the water supplied if requested by the owner or occupier of that dwelling.

Fees and charges

The regulations allow us to recover the costs for carrying out risk assessments, sampling and analysis work.

The table below sets out our charging scheme. The fee will be charged to the responsible person of the water supply.

No fee is payable where a sample is taken and analysed solely to confirm or clarify the results of the analysis of a previous sample.

Regulatory activityProposed chargeComments
A risk assessmentOfficer Hourly Rate at £57 per hourTime taken to carry out the risk assessment (including travel and administration) at the officers hourly rate
A sampling visitStandard PWS sampling visit fee of £100The set fee equates to the average time to take a sample + administrative costs (including arranging with laboratory and invoicing) calculated at 1.75 hours.
An investigation e.g. of a complaint or a breach of a regulatory standardOfficer Hourly Rate at £57 per hourTime taken to carry out the investigation (including travel and administration) at the officers hourly rates

Laboratory testing costs

Regulation supplyCharge
Regulation 10 supply – non-optional parametersActual charge levied by the laboratory
Regulation 10 supply – additional risk-based parametersThese costs can be recovered as part of the risk assessment activity
Regulation 9 supply – Group A parameter monitoringActual charge levied by the laboratory
Regulation 9 supply – Group B parameter monitoringActual charge levied by the laboratory

No fee is payable where a sample is taken and analysed solely to confirm or clarify the results of the analysis of a previous sample.

Related content

The Private Water Supplies (England) 2016 – GOV.UK

Drinking Water Inspectorate

Environment Agency


Anglian Water

Contact details

Environmental Team, Doughty Road Depot, Doughty Road, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire, DN32 OLL

Email: [email protected]

Telephone: 01472 324833

Opening times: By appointment only