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In general terms, a private water supply is any water supply which is not provided by a water company. It is not therefore a ‘mains’ supply. No water rates are paid for these supplies although the person who owns a supply may make a charge. A private water supply typically originates from one of the following sources:

  • Wells
  • Boreholes
  • Streams
  • Springs
  • Rivers
  • Lakes or Ponds etc

As a rural area Monmouthshire has several of these. They are generally found in the more rural areas of the county. It is estimated that around 1% of the population of England and Wales has private water supplies to their homes (Drinking Water Inspectorate, 2003). In Monmouthshire there are approximately a thousand properties served by a private water supply.

A private water supply could serve just one commercial or domestic property, or it could be a large supply with a large network of pipes supplying water to many properties.

It also includes a supply provided for the purpose of bottling water. However where water is bottled for sale the Natural Mineral Water, Spring Water and Bottled Drinking Water (Wales) Regulations 2007 apply.

For further advice or to arrange to have your water tested please contact environmental health.

New private water supply regulations – what you need to know

The new Private Water Supplies (Wales) Regulations 2009 regulations aim to protect health as they require the same water quality standards as the mains water supply.

The Regulations require each supply (except supplies to single dwellings) to have a risk assessment so that its monitoring programme matches the risk to health the supply presents. The risk assessment is based on factors such as the source of supply, the area it is abstracted from and the number of consumers.

The regulations affect all private supplies although those serving a single dwelling will only be risk assessed and sampled upon request.

Within 5 years, the council has to complete the risk assessments for all supplies in its area (except supplies to single dwellings).

There is a duty on the council to regularly monitor supplies used as part of a commercial or public activity and for village estate supplies which service 50 or more persons per day.

What are the council’s responsibilities?


The Regulations require the Council to monitor Private Water Supplies. We will use the Regulations to develop our annual sampling programme, as follows:

  • For Small Supplies (of less than 10 cubic meters per day) the monitoring is based on the findings of the risk assessment.
  • Larger Supplies(greater than 10mcubic meters per day) and supplies to commercial or public premises, will be monitored from the first year.


Local authorities must keep records of all Private Water Supplies including Private Distribution Systems. This information is sent to the Drinking Water Inspectorate for each supply as follows:

  • the name of the supply, together with a unique identifier
  • the type of source
  • the geographical location using a grid reference
  • an estimate of the number of people supplied
  • an estimate of the average daily volume of water supplied in cubic metres
  • the type of premises supplied
  • detail of any treatment process, together with its location
  • the name of our local Health Protection Agency office

Failed samples

The Regulations set out procedures we must follow if we consider a Private Water Supply unwholesome. This includes requirements to:

  • investigate the cause
  • inform the Private Water Supply user(s) if the supply constitutes a potential danger to human health
  • give the user(s) advice to allow them to minimise any such potential danger
  • We will need to liaise with the Health Protection Agency to seek advice on whether there is potential danger to human health.


We can make reasonable charges, to cover costs for carrying out duties under the Regulations, up to maximum limits set out in the Regulations. These vary from supply to supply please contact environmental health.

For further advice or to arrange to have your water tested please contact environmental health.

Private water supplies advice and testing

I am concerned about the quality of my supply. Can you help?

We can recommend ways to prevent pollution of your water supply and improve its quality. Please contact environmental health to discuss your concerns.

Can you test my water for me?

Yes but there is a charge for this service. If you are concerned about the quality of water supplied to your property from a private water supply, you can ask us to test a sample of the water. Please contact environmental health to discuss your requirements

What if you find a problem?

We will tell you if there is a problem with the quality of your supply and we will also advise you of the variety of treatment methods available to deal with most circumstances. You will however be responsible for choosing which option, arranging and paying for the works.

If you have a private distribution of supply to a commercial premises and you choose not to do the works we advise you of then, there are other options open to us in the Regulations, including the serving of notices.

What sort of works might I have to do to improve my supply?

These may include:

  • fencing off a spring chamber to stop animals entering and contaminating the area;
  • creating an exclusion zone for the spreading of fertilizers around the spring or well;
  • the improvement of drainage around to supply; or
    the replacement of pipework.

Sometimes it may prove necessary to install a filter to remove or lower the level of a particular substance.

Examples include:

  • Ultra-Violet filters to remove bacteria (E. Coli)
  • Reverse Osmosis filters to remove aluminium or nitrate
  • Iron and Manganese filters
  • Cation Exchange filters to remove lead

Private water supply fees and charges

Council must charge for the works required by the Regulations. The fees chargeable are varied depending on many factors. If your supply needs sampling or risk assessing you will be advised of the costs before works commence.

The fees charged vary to each individual property. It is impossible for us to display a table of charges.

Please contact environmental health to discuss your requirements.

Common problems with private supplies

Private water supplies are often polluted with bacteria known as coliforms. If these bacteria are found in your water it means that the supply is being polluted somewhere between the source and your tap. This can be caused by animal waste or sewage which comes into contact with the water.

The land that the source of your supply is on can cause the water to pick up naturally occurring metals. For example, acidic water coming from peat moorland can pick up aluminium and manganese. Acidic water can also corrode copper and lead pipes.

Water could be polluted by normal agricultural practices such as spreading farm sludge, or by fertilizers running off the land or by percolating through the soil into the water. Septic tanks, manure heaps and drains can all cause pollution as well as animals getting access to the supply.

For further advice or to arrange to have your water tested please contact environmental health.