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Private water supply registration and quality of supply

This advice applies to Scotland

This information applies to Scotland only

Private water supply registration and testing

There is more detailed information available about private water supplies and the law governing them and how they need to be maintained. There is specific information about what to do if you are buying or selling a property with a private water supply. There is also more detailed information about how to apply for a local authority grant to improve your private water supply. The information is available on the mygov.scot website.

A private water supply has to be registered with the local authority environmental health department.

The quality of water from a private supply has to be tested regularly by the environmental health department if it serves over 50 people and/or provides a supply to a domestic setting where there is commercial or public activity. A private water supply is unlikely to have been treated for public consumption in the same way as water provided by Scottish Water.

There are two categories of private water supply. They are Type A and Type B. The names for these categories are under review but the current names are still being used. The testing requirements of each are a bit different and your responsibilities as a private water user are also different. If you have water from a private water supply that:

  • is used just by you and your family, the frequency of the testing is likely to be as often as required to make sure the quality is up to the standard set by law. You will have to request that it is tested by the local authority. This is classed as a Type B supply (legal note 1)
  • provides water for 50 or more people in domestic premises. This is classed as a Type A supply. It could be tested as often as every three months if the local authority considers that the source of the water may provide an unpredictable quality. It has to be of a particular standard before it can be acceptable for drinking (legal note 2). You will have to share the cost of the fees for testing with other home owners who get the supply.

If you rent a property with a private water supply it has to be tested regularly to make sure it is good quality. The fees for this should be paid by the owner of the property but you may want to check if it is included in your rent as some landlords may try to pass the cost on to the tenant. This may be a matter for negotiation.

Public notice about private water supply

A commercial premise, for example, holiday accommodation, or a public site of interest that provides a toilet, must have a notice up if the water is from a private supply (legal note 3). In some cases it may not be suitable for drinking and you need to be warned about this. Even if it is suitable for drinking you might decide that you are not going to take the risk of drinking untreated water.

If you become ill and you were not told that the drinking water was from a private water supply you can take legal action against the owner of the property.

Improving your private water supply with a grant from the local authority

Your local authority should have a scheme in place to give you a grant of up to £800 capital to improve your private water supply (legal note 4). If a number of households use the supply and you all need some upgrading work to pipes, for example, you could group your separate applications together to try to get a larger amount than £800. You should contact your local authority to find out what is happening in your area. There is more detailed information about this on the mygov.scot website.

Interruptions to private water supply

A private water supply can be interrupted by natural events or interference from, for example, a frog blocking the pipe. You should make sure that you check your private water supply regularly. You might find it helpful to read some handy hints for managing and maintaining a private water supply at dwqr.scot.

Exemption from water charges with the council tax

When you have a private water supply you are exempt from paying for water with your council tax.

Legal notes

1 Private Water Supply (Scotland) Regulations 2006

2 Scottish Statutory Instrument no 282/2017

3 Scottish Statutory Instrument no 282/2017

4 Private Water Supplies (Grants) Scotland Regulations 2006, section 47

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