Improving private water supplies - issues for landowners

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15 February 2010

From the beginning of 2010 local authorities will have new powers to ensure that private water supplies provide wholesome water.

The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 replace the 1991 regulations of the same name in relation to supplies of water for human consumption (which excludes water supplies used just for watering livestock or irrigating crops, for instance). They apply only in England, although Wales will follow shortly. They do not apply only to water from, for example, boreholes; mains water will also be subject to monitoring if it has to pass through private pipes before it reaches the consumer.

The main headline for landowners is that failure to comply with notices served by local authorities to undertake work to improve the quality of supply is now a criminal offence. Since the tests for wholesomeness are now more stringent, the possibility of such a notice being served is greater, and so landowners will need to take these responsibilities seriously.

On the other hand, the regulations try to keep the cost of monitoring down (so it is claimed) by assessing the risk on each supply and setting the monitoring requirements accordingly, although there are still minimum sampling requirements. Maximum costs chargeable by the local authority are allocated in the regulations, but these will almost certainly be higher than under the existing rules - another reminder, if one were needed, for landowners to look carefully at whether they can claim contributions from adjacent owners who also benefit from the supply.

For further information contact Emma Folkes on 0117 307 6975 or email

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