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Getting a water supply

This advice applies to Scotland

This information applies to Scotland only

Domestic households in Scotland are all provided with water by Scottish Water unless there is a separate private source like a spring or a borehole. Only 3% of households have a private water supply. There is more information about getting a water supply, and how to solve some of the problems that can occur with your supply, on the Scottish Water website at www.scottishwater.co.uk.

Water from Scottish Water

Moving into a property that is new to you

If you have no water coming from the taps always check first if the stop cock has been turned off. The stop cock should be straightforward to find inside the house ,often under the kitchen sink. There is  second one outside the property boundary which is controlled by Scottish Water.

The previous tenant or owner may have decided that for convenience and safety the water should be turned off in case of water leaks or burst pipes. It is very rare for the water supply to a domestic property to be disconnected from the mains supply.

If your water is turned off you can call Scottish Water to reconnect the supply on 0845 601 8855. There is no charge to take over a water supply but there may be a call out charge.

How to apply for a new supply

When you are in a new property or building a new home which does not have a private water supply Scottish Water must provide a water supply to the point where it can be connected to your domestic pipes but only if it can be done at reasonable cost (legal note 1).

Your architect or surveyor must check to see if Scottish Water can connect your new property to the public water supply.

If you have problems getting Scottish Water to provide the necessary piping to get your domestic piping to the public water supply you might have a claim against an architect or surveyor if they failed to check this.

If Scottish Water refuses to connect you to the public supply because, for example, of the cost or location you can appeal to the Directorate for Planning and the Environment who decides if their decision is reasonable or not.

Paying for water from the public supply

Once you are connected from your home to the public water supply you pay for your domestic water with your council tax, unless you have a water meter. If you have a water meter, you will pay Scottish Water.

Private water supply

You might have a private water supply because of where you live. It is important to check your water supply source and supply piping regularly. You might find it helpful to use a self-help risk assessment available on a website for people who have a private water supply. The risk assessment is at www.privatewatersupplies.gov.uk.

You have to register with the local authority environmental health department if you have a private water supply and you must be able to register where the source is.

Your local authority has a duty to regularly inspect and monitor the quality of drinking water in your private supply if it supplies a large amount of water or serves more than 50 people or supplies a commercial or public activity (legal note 3).

When the supply provides domestic water for less than 50 people and does not serve commercial or public activities you don't have to complete a risk assessment. The local authority has to give you advice if you ask for it.

Your local authority may also be able to help you to find a good private contractor if you need help to make repairs to your private water supply facilities.

Finding a new private water supply

A private water supply can come from 'surface water' like lochs, streams or rivers or from below ground from boreholes or wells. Most water taken from such sources will need to be treated before it is suitable as drinking water.

If you want to create a new private water supply for domestic use you need to get advice from your local authority environmental health department about obtaining estimates from local surveyors etc about the costs. You might be eligible for financial help of up to £800 to provide a private supply to your home (legal note 2).

Legal notes

1 The Water (Scotland) Act 1980 section 6 and The Sewerage Scotland Act 1968 section 1 both as amended by the Water Industry Scotland Act 2005

2 Private Water Supplies (Grants) Regulations 2006 section 47

3 The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 section 6

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