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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 a mains supply if no water rates are paid, although the person who owns the supply may make a charge. There are no laws controlling the charges or other conditions connected with private supplies. The owner and/or person who use the supply is responsible for repairing and maintaining it. Private supplies are commonly used in the rural parts of Mid Devon. In total over 1200 supplies are currently utilised, of which over 800 are single domestic users.

A private water supply could serve just one property or it could be a large supply with a network of pipes supplying water to many properties. The water may come from a spring, well, borehole, pond, river, stream or rainwater harvesting.

Quality standards for water

Good quality water is very important to everyday life. Every house must have a good supply of clean, fresh water for it to be fit for occupation.

To make sure that water used in the home, commercial activity and/or producing food is of the high quality required to protect public health, the government has set legal quality standards which must be met. Private supplies are more likely to be contaminated because the sources are more likely to be unprotected from contamination and they are generally not treated to the same standard as public supplies.

Local authorities act as the regulators for private water supplies and have a number of statutory duties under Private Water Supplies legislation. These  place a duty on local authorities to conduct a risk assessment of each private water supply (excluding single domestic supplies) within their area and to undertake monitoring in order to determine compliance with drinking water standards.


The Water Industry Act 1991 requires local authorities like us, to check the wholesomeness and sufficiency of Private Water Supplies (PWS) provided to premises in their area.

The Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 under which PWS are inspected, came into force on 27 June 2016. 

The Private Water Supplies (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 came into force on the 11th July 2018.



Volume, sampling type and frequency Risk assessment requirements
Regulation 8

Where a public (mains) supply has onward distribution to consumers.

As outlined below Every 5 years
Regulation 9

Large supplies (>103 /day) and those used as part of a commercial or public activity (including supplies to tenanted single dwellings)    

<103 - Group A & Group B once annually
>103 ≤1003 - Group A twice annually
>103 ≤33003 -Group B twice annually
Every 5 years
Regulation 10 Small supplies, including small shared supplies Every 5 years Every 5 years

Water supply categorisation

There are five categories of supply:

  1. Commercial Supply- supplies water to a premises where the water is used for a commercial activity
  2. Large Supplies - an average daily volume of water of 10 cubic meters or more
  3. Private Distribution System - the water is supplied by a water undertaker or licensed water supplier and then further distributed by a person other than the water undertaker or licensed water supplier
  4. Small Supply - the water is supplied to more than one domestic dwelling
  5. Single Domestic Supply - a domestic dwelling

Group A sampling involves looking at a suite of basic parameters, Group B sampling covers a much larger suite of parameters. The frequency of these sampling suites depends upon the volume of water used from the supply as outlined above.

There are procedures that local authorities must follow if a private water supply is determined as being a potential danger to human health or unwholesome under the above legislation. This includes a requirement to investigate the cause of any failures, inform users of the supply if it poses a potential danger to human health and giving advice to users to minimise any such potential dangers. Enforcement powers are available if needed.

Fees and charges

Local authorities are permitted to charge for carrying out risk assessments and enforcement work. Our fees and charges reflect current service delivery costs as follows:


Current charge


Risk Assessment

£200 for up to 2 hours on site + £40 an hour thereafter

A risk assessment is required for all private water supplies except for single domestic dwellings

Risk Assessment Report

£70 + £40 an hour thereafter

£70 fee includes up to 2 hours write up only

Sampling Visit


Sampling visit only, does not include analysis costs



An investigation must be carried out to determine the cause of a failure including service of notice



Issued for a temporary basis whilst remedial work is carried out to improve the supply

Laboratory/analysis on costs


£99.36 (Regulation 9 supply)

£17.28 (Regulation 10 supply)

Certain parameters may be removed from the monitoring suite if specific criteria is met over a period of three years under Regulation 5 of the amendment regulations.

Additional parameters may also be added if the risk assessment and/or local geology identifies a specific risk

Laboratory costs for analysis as at April 2019


Further information

For further information, see 'Related websites' either to the right or at the bottom of this page (depending on your viewing device).

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