Private water supplies

A private water supply is a supply of water, which does not come from a licensed water supplier, such as Southern Water, Veolia or a water undertaker.  Private supplies may come from a variety of sources, including wells, springs, boreholes and streams.

Private distribution systems are where mains water is supplied by a licensed water supplier to a site or property and is then distributed on to other properties which are not owned or occupied by the same company, organisation or person.

The person responsible for a private water supply is called the relevant person and is defined in the Water Industry Act 1991 as, the owner or occupier of the premises supplied; the owner or occupier of the premises where the source of the supply is situated even if the source lies outside the local authority’s area; and any other person who exercises powers of management or control in relation to that source. There may be more than one relevant person for a supply. The Regulations make provisions for local authorities to charge fees to the relevant person(s) for conducting duties under these regulations.

Private water supplies and private distribution systems are covered by The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016, as amended.

The regulations aim to ensure water from private supplies is wholesome, so people who drink water or consume food or drinks made from private supplies may do so without risk to their health. For all supplies other than a single domestic supply, we are required to carry out a risk assessment on the supply once every five years.  This risk assessment looks at the source of the supply and the surrounding area to see if contamination is possible.  It also involves checks of storage tanks, treatment systems and the pipes to ensure that any action necessary is taken to ensure the water supply is safe to drink.

We are also required to carry out sampling at these supplies but the frequency of sampling and the parameters tested are dependent on the outcome of the risk assessment and the size of the supply.

There is no requirement to sample at single domestic supplies. However, this can be done at the request of the owner or occupier.  There is a charge for this service and the fees are set out in the regulations as detailed in the table below.  Charges are dependent on the parameters tested and the officer’s time.  We only charge for costs incurred and no profit is made.  The table below gives detail of the maximum charges permitted.


Activity  Maximum fee
Risk Assessment £500
Sampling visit £100
Analysis of an audit sample £500
Analysis of a check sample £100
Investigation of failures (each investigation) £100
Granting an authorisation £100

Where can I get further advice?

The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016 and 2018 Amendment Regulations cover all private water supplies and private distribution systems. They look to safeguard public health by ensuring that supplies are safe to drink by risk assessment and regular sampling.

Further information and guidance, including on sampling parameters, is available on the Drinking Water Inspectorate’s website.

If you think you are on a private water supply, a private distribution system or  have any other queries, please contact the Environmental Protection Team on 01304 577000 or via e-mail at Environmental.Health@thanet.gov.uk.

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