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Private water supplies – rights and responsibilities

12 October 2018 Written by Gillian Ralph Category: Blog

Most properties in Scotland are supplied by Scottish Water, however around 150,000 people in Scotland rely on a private water supply (any water supply not provided by Scottish Water) for their drinking water. Many others use them each year whilst on holiday. New regulations were introduced last year in order to reduce the health risks associated with poor private water supplies, meaning that responsibility for ensuring the quality of a private water supply could now be laid at your doorstep where previously it may not have been.

A private water supply can be from a variety of sources such as wells, boreholes, springs, streams, rivers or lakes as well as storage structures and tanks.

The new regulations for private water supplies recently introduced by the Scottish Government encompass those that:

  • supply 50 or more people, or more than 10m3 of water a day
  • form part of a commercial or public activity
  • are used in a commercial or public activity (for example at village halls, in restaurants and hotels, holiday lets, farm shops or on campsites).

Under these regulations, privately rented properties are considered commercial premises.

The new regulations broaden the net in terms of who might be liable for ensuring the quality of water from private supplies and impose statutory obligations in respect of registration, risk assessment, monitoring and maintenance with increased penalties for failure to meet those obligations. 

Individuals who own any part of the private water supply system, the landowner who owns the land from which the water is extracted, the landowner who owns the land across which any part of the water supply system is built, and any individuals who manage or control any of the land involved, the water supply system and the water supply, are now responsible for complying with the regulations.

If you have a private water supply and have any questions about your responsibilities then please get in touch.

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