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Private Water Supplies

A private water supply is any water supply which is not provided by a water utility company. The source of the supply may come from:

The supply may serve just one building or several through a network of pipes.

Regulation 2009

These regulations seek to safeguard public health by ensuring that private water supplies are wholesome and safe to drink. They require quality standards similar to those of mains water supply.

Each supply must undergo a risk assessment. We have the duty under the regulations to carry out the risk assessment for private supplies in Swale.

Risk assessment is the best way find possible hazards to human health. The information collected in the assessment will be recorded in a report specific to your private water supply. It allows action to be taken to reduce risks through a multi-barrier approach, involving source protection, treatment of the source water and management of the distribution network to stop contaminants entering the water supply system. The regulations cover all private supplies, although those serving a single home will only be risk assessed and sampled upon request of the owner or occupier.


We charge the costs of carrying out our duties under these regulations to those responsible for the supply. Where part of a shared supply is used by some commercial activity, e.g. bed and breakfast, pub, camp site, the charges may be divided between the commercial and non-commercial properties proportionally. A breakdown of the charges is shown below, with the maximum fee allowed to be charged under the regulations.

ActivityOur chargesMaximum chargeComments
Risk assessment Time taken to carry out the risk assessment (including travel and administration) at the officers hourly rate* £500 This must be carried out at least every five years for each supply.
Sampling visit Time taken to carry out the sampling (including travel and administration) at the sampling officer's and administrative officer's hourly rates* £100 Charge for a visit and to take a sample + administrative costs e.g. arranging with laboratory, invoicing

Time taken to carry out the investigation (including travel and administration) at the officers hourly rates*

£100 Carried out in the event of test failure
Granting an authorisation Time taken to carry out the work involved in granting an authorisation at the officers and administrative officers hourly rates* £100 Application by the owner of a supply for permission to breach a standard temporarily whilst remedial work is carried out
Sample analysis Actual charge levied by the laboratory up to the maximum.

Single and small supplies (using less than 10 m3 water per day and serving less than 50 persons): £25.

Large(using more than 10 m3 water per day or serving 50 or more persons) and commercial supplies: £100 for check monitoring and £500 for audit monitoring

Check monitoring is carried out to ensure that water complies with standards. Where possible it is carried out at the same time as any requirement for audit monitoring, to keep cost down.

*Officer costs for 2018/19 period are £40.00 per hour. This will be subject to change in future years.

Risk Assessments

The regulations require each supply (excluding single private domestic dwellings) to have a risk assessment every five years, to see how regularly the supply needs to be tested and for which types of bacteria, chemicals etc. This involves surveying the supply, from the source through to point-of-use, to find factors that could lead to contamination of the supply. Factors affecting sampling requirements include the type of source (borehole, well etc), how well it is protected, the treatment methods in place, the number of people served by the supply and the intended use of the water.

Risk assessments will normally be carried out by a pre-booked appointment, and where possible details of what needs to be inspected/considered will be provided before the site visit. This is to make sure the owner or occupier has the opportunity to arrange access to all parts of the water system, arrange for someone with detailed knowledge of the system to attend, and reduce the amount of time we need to be on site, so lowering the cost.


Samples from private water supplies will normally be taken from a consumer tap and then sent for analysis at an approved laboratory. The amount of sampling and the level of analysis needed will depend on the results of the risk assessment.

Larger supplies (using more than 10 m3 water per day and serving 50 or more people) and those serving commercial buildings are now required to have regular 'check monitoring', as well as more broad 'audit monitoring' on a less regular basis. Small supplies (using less than 10 m3 water per day and serving less than 50 people) are checked at least once every five years and more regularly depending on the risk assessment.

Supplies serving only an individual domestic dwelling will only be risk assessed and tested at the request of the owner or occupier.


Any sample that fails to meet the points set out in the Private Water Supply Regulations must have an investigation to find the reason for the failure and to identify what action is needed to improve the supply. This may mean more  sampling being done at the source, holding tanks and/or other parts of the infrastructure to assist the investigation.

If a healthy supply cannot be achieved through making physical changes to the supply network, the water will need treatment before use. A wide range of treatment options are available.


In the event of failure, where a supply is found to be 'unwholesome' or a 'risk to human health', a notice will be served either prohibiting or restricting the supply, as appropriate. The notice will be specific for each supply that has a failed to meet the standards. This notice can be appealed in a magistrates court and/or by appeal to the secretary of state, but the notice will remain in force until either it has been complied with or it is suspended by the courts/secretary of state.


In certain situations where a supply fails the water quality standard, but the failure is for a reason which does not cause a risk to health, we may grant an 'authorisation' to go beyond the required limit. This would be for a limited time, while measures are put in place to correct the problem.

Questions about Private Water Supplies

What is a commercial/large supply?

The commercial/large category includes any business that supplies water from a private water supply to the public for drinking, washing, food preparation, or where the water is used in a way that it is likely to enter the human food chain. This category includes B and B, holiday lets, pubs, food production premises. Also in this category are domestic private water supplies using more than 10 m3 water per day or supplying water to 50 or more people.

Can I do the risk assessment and sampling myself? 

Risk assessments can only be done by the local authority or by someone we consider competent. We are responsible for making sure sampling is completed according to legislation, so if you would like another company to take and analyse samples of your private water supply, we will need to approve the sampling company and the parameters to be analysed, before samples are taken. The analysis must comply with the new legislation. We will need to be sent the result certificates directly from the laboratory.

Why do you need a risk assessment of your private water supply?

A risk assessment is needed to: 

The risk assessment will show how to minimise the potential risks to your supply and to human health, and provide enough information to allow 'audit monitoring parameters' to be found. Once your risk assessment has been completed, we will explain how often the supply needs to be sampled, based on the risks found. Every five years the risk assessment will be reviewed. You will receive the assessment report and we will keep a copy for 30 years.

The Private Water Supplies Regulations impose a tighter legal duty for monitoring of your supply, and one of the functions of the risk assessment is to identify any parameter (i.e. types of bacteria, chemicals etc) which could pose a potential risk to human health. The parameters identified can then be monitored.

How long will the assessment take?

This will depend on the type and size of supply and the factors that may affect water quality but will probably take about two hours. Ideally the person responsible for the supply should be present so that the risk assessment can be carried out as quickly and as well as possible. During the risk assessment we will need access to the source of the supply i.e. borehole, well, or spring, any collection chambers, holding/storage tanks including header tanks which may be found in roof spaces, and finally the point of use of the supply.

How much will the risk assessment cost? 

Regulation 21 of the Private Water Supplies Regulations sets out fees which we can charge to recover the cost of the risk assessment and monitoring programme. We have set the charges for this financial year. Please see charges above.

How regularly will my supply need to be sampled?

Why should I register my private water supply with the local authority?

So that we can: 

How can I keep my supply safe?

All parts of your supply should be regularly monitored and inspected to make sure that it is in good working order, and has not been interfered with or damaged. The supply needs to be properly protected throughout, from source to point-of-use. This should include a maintenance programme to clean the system, storage tanks or header tanks, and to ensure all treatment works are working as they should according to manufacturers guidelines.

What if I supply water to others? 

If you supply water to others with or without a charge, for example other domestic premises, renting out holiday accommodation or to commercial premises with employees or food production it is your responsibility to ensure the water is healthy and does not pose a risk to human health.

Should I get my supply checked by Swale Borough Council? 

Unless your supply serves a single home, we will risk assess and monitor your supply in the next five years. If you suspect that something is wrong with the supply or you would like to request a sample to be taken and analysed you can contact Environmental Health Commercial Team to discuss your problem and to arrange for any sampling to be carried out. 

More information on the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 is available on the Drinking Water Inspectorate website.

Contacting Us

If you have a question about private water supplies, please contact the Environmental Health team.


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