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Private water supplies

In South Ayrshire a number of premises, both private and commercial, obtain their water from a private supply. A private water supply is one which is not provided by Scottish Water. A private water supply may come from a loch, burn, spring, well, river, pond, borehole or a combination of these. The supply may serve only one property or a number of different properties. In South Ayrshire we have approximately 400 private water supplies serving over 1000 inhabitants and many more visitors.

Private water supplies are, by their nature, very vulnerable to contamination that may cause waterborne infections or other ill effects. Contamination can be bacteriological in nature, from faecal matter such as human sewage or animal droppings, or may arise from chemical sources, such as fertilizer run-off from fields or deterioration of distribution pipe work.

The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 came into force on 3 July 2006 and replaced The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 1992. Scottish Statutory Instrument documents explaining the latest regulations can be viewed through this website: The Private Water Supplies (Notices) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and The Private Water Supplies (Grants) (Scotland) Regulations 2006. Under these regulations private water supplies are defined as either:

  • Type A - Supplies serving 50 or more persons, or supplies to commercial or public activities irrespective of size, or
  • Type B - Supplies serving only domestic premises with less than 50 persons supplied.

Type A supplies fall within the provisions of the E.C. Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC) which require each supply to be sampled and analysed for a wide range of parameters at least once a year. Commercial premises are also required to display an information notice. A copy of this notice can be downloaded here or obtained from your local Environmental Health.

Staff from Environmental Health routinely monitor these high risk supplies as part of their statutory duties.

Type B supplies are required to comply with a limited range of parameters that are defined in the regulations and will not form part of a statutory sampling programme.

Private water supplies can be prone to contamination by harmful bacteria or chemicals etc. Therefore, it makes good sense to have your water tested to ensure the quality is satisfactory. If your private water supply serves the public, or a commercial operation then you are required by law to have it tested, this includes self- catering property, food businesses, factories, sports centres, hotels, B&Bs, schools and campsites. A register of supplies and sample results is held by Environmental Health. The cost of such sampling is borne by owners of properties served by the supply.

If your property is served by a single domestic supply, it may not have been sampled and there are currently no plans to sample such supplies unless a problem is drawn to the Council`s attention. However, should you wish to have your supply sampled, it can be arranged. A charge is made for this service.

If you have a query relating to Private Water Supplies please contact us at Environmental Health and for further information go to

Grant scheme

Currently a grant scheme is in operation whereby a grant of up to £800 may be awarded for improving a private water supply or domestic distribution system or for a replacement private water supply. Grants in excess of £800 may be paid where the works required would place undue financial hardship on the eligible person. Details of what would be regarded as hardship criteria are available on request and the merits of each hardship application will be decided on a case-by-case basis and separately from this grant application.

  • You may be eligible for a grant if you:
    • are a relevant person within the meaning of the 2006 Regulations, or
    • are a responsible person within the meaning of the 2006 Regulations, or
    • own or occupy premises which are located in Scotland, and which are served by a private water supply which is the principle or sole supply of water for human consumption purposes to those premises.
  • The grant is available to supplies serving domestic, commercial or public premises. Download anapplication form. Please ensure that the form is completed fully and signed and posted back to us along with a quote for the work that the grant is to fund (in part or in its entirety).

Risk Assessments for Private Water Supplies

If you are on a Type A supply your supply may have already been risk assessed, if not please contact Environmental Health to arrange a visit. If you are on a Type B supply then you will need to submit a grant application form and a member of staff will contact you to arrange a visit (should you at a later date not go ahead with the grant then a charge may be made for this, otherwise it will be free)

At the risk assessment visit a member of our staff along with yourself or other relevant and/or interested persons, will look at the whole supply from the source to the taps. The visit is likely to take 1 - 4 hours, depending on the complexity of the supply. The process is designed to include all types and sizes of supply, it highlights possible contamination routes and increases awareness of the potential risks and the importance of ongoing maintenance amongst users. The benefits include an impartial investigation of whole supply and sound advice regarding suitable treatment. A feedback letter and report will detail improvements, if required. This letter will provide the basis for you obtaining quotes from suitable tradesmen to carry out work in your private water supply grant and also give you valuable information on looking after your supply.

For more information regarding private water supplies you can go to

Advice on maintaining your private water supply

In order to keep your private water supply functioning correctly you need to keep it clean and well maintained. For further advice please contact us. You should also consider how you can ensure an adequate supply of water, guidance is available by contacting us.

Advice to users and visitors

If premises are served by a private water supply then the water is not provided by a statutory water undertaker – such as Scottish Water. This may mean that the amount of treatment the water has had may be different to the water that many people on a public supply are used to. For example, a private water supply may not have chlorine added to it to kill any potentially harmful micro-organisms, although other treatment may have been applied to achieve a similar effect.

If you have a commercial premises served by a private supply in Scotland you are required by law to display a Drinking Water Notice bringing the fact to the attention of all users of the supply. This includes all holiday letting premises and self- catering units/caravans. This notice brings to your attention that the supply is a private one. You can then consider whether you need to take additional precautions to protect your health or the health of your family. Although the quality of private water supplies is often acceptable for drinking and other purposes this may not always be the case. Under certain circumstances the quality may be lower than you would expect from a public supply. There are occasions when there is an increased risk of harmful bacteria affecting any supply. This is most likely to happen after heavy rainfall or snowmelt, or when the water is highly coloured.

Some people are more vulnerable to harmful bacteria than others. These include:

  • Bottle-fed infants
  • The very young
  • The elderly
  • Anyone whose immune system might be compromised.

For these people we recommend that you always boil water used for the following purposes:

  • Drinking, including preparing cold drinks and ice,
  • Brushing teeth,
  • Preparing food, particularly that which will be eaten uncooked such as salads and fruit.

We would also recommend that you boil water used for the above purposes for use by anyone after periods of heavy rainfall or snow melt, or if the water is particularly coloured (as this can affect water treatment efficiency).

Water needs only to be brought to the boil. It can then be stored in a covered container in the fridge for up to 48 hours. Alternatively, you can use bought bottled water for these purposes.

If you decide to use bottled water, remember that any water bottled water labelled “natural mineral water” may contain too much sodium for babies. Check the label to make sure the figure for sodium (Na) isn’t higher than 200milligrams (mg) per litre.

If you require more information with regard to the drinking water quality or treatment on a particular supply then the owner or owner’s representative should be able to assist.

If you still have concerns then please contact us Further information is also available on the Scottish Government website at

Sampling of water supplies

Type A Supplies are routinely sampled as part of our statutory sampling programme. The results of these samples are available on request.

If you wish for your water supply to be tested please contact us to discuss your requirements. Tests will be recommended dependent on the reason for testing, eg house sale, specific concerns/complaints, planning permission being sought, suspected illness. There may be a charge for such tests and this information will be provided to you before you decide to go ahead.

For further information please contact Environmental health on 01292 618222 or email:

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