Private water regulations

Last Updated: 18 September 2020

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

This could include:

  • springs
  • wells
  • boreholes
  • surface water eg streams, lakes
  • a private distribution system is where water is supplied by a water company to a customer and then further distributed by that customer to a third party on separately owned land

All private water supplies need to be properly managed and 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.

Tell us about your supply

We have a duty to keep up to date records of all private water supplies.

You can tell us about a new water supply or give us information about an existing supply such as change of use or new contact details by filling in the private water supplies questionnaire (PDF 34KB / 2 pages).

Return your completed form by email to Or, you can post your form to Public Protection, South Lakeland District Council, South Lakeland House, Lowther Street, Kendal, LA9 4DQ.  

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 Public Protection Team.

The Regulations

The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 place a number of statutory duties upon local authorities. 

We must carry out risk assessments and monitor all private water supplies with the exception of single owner occupied domestic dwellings where the water is not used as part of a commercial activity. 

Local authorities charge to recover the costs involved in regulating private water supplies. This includes the time taken to complete risk assessments and the costs of collecting and analysing samples.

We are required to investigate any failures to meet standards and if necessary take enforcement action to protect public health and ensure that private water supplies are wholesome and safe to drink.

Risk assessment

The Regulations require local authorities to risk assess private water supplies every five years. 

This involves inspecting the supply from source through to the consumers tap, identifying potential risks to the supply and treatment options. 

The risk assessment may require remedial measures to be put in place to reduce potential risks to human health and ensure that the supply is wholesome. It will also inform the monitoring and sampling programme.

All properties on the supply will receive the risk assessment report and a copy will be retained for 30 years by us.


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.

You should routinely monitor and inspect your supply to ensure that it is in good working order and has not been interfered with or damaged.

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

If you suspect that something is wrong with your supply or you would like to request a sample to be taken and analysed please contact Public Protection.

Classification of supplies

Private water supplies are classified by three regulations:

Supplies to single domestic dwellings (Regulation 10)

A private water supply that serves a single owner occupied domestic dwelling where the water is not used as part of a commercial activity. These supplies will only be sampled and risk assessed on request.

Small shared supplies (Regulation 10)

A private water supply that supplies less than 10m3  per day (less than 50 people) where the water is not used as part of a commercial activity or food business. These supplies require a risk assessment every five years and sampling at least once every five years.

Large supplies (Regulation 9)

A private water supply that supplies more than 10m3  per day (more than 50 people) or where the water is used as part of a commercial activity, food business or public building, for example: bed and breakfast accommodation, holiday lets and village halls. These supplies require a risk assessment every five years and sampling at least once a year, determined by the risk and volume of water used.

Private distribution systems (Regulation 8)

A private distribution system is where water is supplied by a water company to a customer and then further distributed by that customer to a third party on separately owned private land, for example some caravan parks and 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.

Private water supplies and flooding

If your water is a private supply such as a well or spring, then check that it has not been affected by the floodwater. If a private well or spring has been covered by floodwater, proceed with caution and ring your local authority for advice. While waiting for an answer or if in doubt, assume that the water is unsafe to drink and source an alternative supply. 

Boiling water kills pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites but does not remove harmful chemicals, which is why sourcing an alternative supply is recommended.

Guidance on recovery from flooding (PDF 561KB / 33 pages)

Useful links

Suppliers of water treatment equipment and servicing 
United Utilities
Drinking Water Inspectorate

If you think there is a problem with your mains water supply please contact United Utilities directly on 0345 672 3723.