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Private water regulations

Private water supplies are not provided by a water utility company such as United Utilities.

This could include:

  • springs
  • wells
  • boreholes
  • surface water e.g. streams, lakes
  • a private distribution system (mains water which is privately distributed by a second party)

All private water supplies need to be be properly maintained, protected and treated.

If you supply water to others (for example as a landlord or employer) then you have to make sure it is safe.

The regulations

Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016 apply to all private water supplies used for human consumption.

We regulate these supplies under the regulations.

We must carry out risk assessments and monitor all private water supplies (excluding water supplies that serve only one domestic dwelling with no commercial activity). 

There is a charge for this service based on:

  • risk assessment score
  • supply type
  • visit cost
  • costs for laboratory analysis

We will investigate any failures to meet standards and take appropriate action.

Risk assessment

The regulations require every water supply to have a risk assessment every five years. 

It involves surveying the supply from source through to the consumers tap, identifying possible prevention measures and treatment options.  It should take around four hours.

The risk assessment will show how to minimise the potential risks and provide adequate information to allow audit monitoring parameters to be identified.

On completion of your risk assessment we will explain how often the supply needs to be sampled, based on the risks identified. 

You will receive the assessment report and a copy will be retained for 30 years by us.

We have recently commissioned a contractor to undertake some risk assessments on our behalf and you may be contacted by Tobins Consulting Engineers directly to arrange this.


We must monitor supplies by taking water samples which will normally be taken from the consumers tap and then sent for analysis at an approved laboratory. 

Any failures to meet standards set by the regulations will be investigated and we must ensure that appropriate action is taken.

All parts of your supply should be routinely monitored and inspected to ensure that it is in good working order and has not been interfered with or damaged.

The supply needs to be appropriately protected throughout. This should include a maintenance programme to clean the distribution system and storage tanks or header tanks and to ensure all treatment is working according to manufacturer's guidelines.

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 Protection.

Classification of supplies

Private water supplies are categorised into four groups:

Single supplies

A water supply that serves only one private domestic dwelling where no commercial activity takes place. These supplies will only be sampled and risk assessed at the owners or occupiers request.

Small supplies (Regulation 10)

A water supply serving fewer than 50 people where no commercial activity takes place. These supplies require a risk assessment every five years and sampling for a few basic parameters at least every five years.

Large supplies (Regulation 9)

A water supply serving over 50 people or serving a commercial premise for example: B&B's, holiday lets, food premises. These supplies require a risk assessment every five years and sampling at least once a year at a frequency determined by the risk and volume of water used.

Private distribution systems (Regulation 8)

A private water system is where water is supplied by a water company and then further distributed by the account holder to a third party, e.g. caravan parks, some industrial estates. These supplies require a risk assessment every five years and require sampling at a frequency dependent on the outcome of the risk assessment.

Suppliers of water treatment equipment and servicing

List of water contractors in the South Lakeland area (DOC/124KB/2 pages)

Registering private water supplies

If you own or drink water from a private water supply and are unsure whether it has been registered with us, you can contact the Environmental Protection Team.

The register of private water supplies is shared with other public bodies, such as the Environment Agency, to ensure that the water quality of these supplies is not compromised by agricultural activities, new developments, pollution incidents etc. 

Private water supplies and flooding

If you have a private water supply you should take additional precautions during periods of heavy rain and flooding.

If you notice deterioration of your supply at the point of use, or changes to the taste or odour of the water then you should not drink it or use it in food preparation, unless it has been previously boiled. Continue to do this until the supply has been checked.

Treatment systems can be severely affected by heavily discoloured water, congesting filters and rendering the ultra-violet (UV) light disinfection systems ineffective.

You should call your water services engineer to check your treatment systems and call us to request a water supply test.

Further information on flooding

Useful links

Drinking Water Inspectorate keeping your private water supply safe leaflet

Drinking Water Inspectorate private water supply information

United Utilities

If you think there is a problem with your mains water supply please contact United Utilities directly on 0845 746 220. 

Private water charges

The Drinking Water Inspectorate will shortly be consulting on changes to the Private Water Supplies Regulations.