Private Water Supplies

What is a private water supply?

In general terms, a private water supply is any water supply which is not provided by a water company, such as Dwr Cymru/ Welsh Water. It is not a ‘mains’ supply and is therefore private. No water rates are paid for these supplies although the person who owns a supply may make a charge. A private water supply typically originates from one of the following sources:

  • Wells
  • Boreholes
  • Streams
  • Springs
  • Rivers
  • Lakes or Ponds etc

As such, private water supplies are generally found in the more rural areas of Torfaen. It is estimated that around 1% of the population of England and Wales has private water supplies to their homes (Drinking Water Inspectorate, 2010). According to the most recent Public Register update in Torfaen there are currently 63 Private Water Supplies. 

A private water supply could serve just one dwelling, be shared amongst several properties or it could be a large or commercial supply with a network of pipes supplying water to many properties. It also includes a supply provided for the purpose of bottling water.

Common problems with private supplies

Private water supplies are often polluted with bacteria known as coliforms. Coliform bacteria are commonly found in the environment (e.g. soil, vegetation and water). Their presence in water alone does not represent a risk to health. They can reproduce and grow on surfaces in the home such as the plastic inserts at the end of taps.

E.coli (Escherichia coli) is a coliform that is found in large numbers in the intenstinal tract of all warm -blooded animals. Some strains of E.coli can cause illness. The presence of E.coli in drinking water almost always indicates recent faecal contamination – meaning that there is a possibility that harmful germs are also present.

The land on which the source of your supply is located can also cause the water to pick up naturally occurring metals. For example, acidic water coming from peat moorland can pick up aluminium and manganese. Acidic water can also corrode copper and lead pipes.

Water could be polluted by normal agricultural practices such as spreading farm sludge, or by fertilizers running off the land or by percolating through the soil into the water. Septic tanks, manure heaps and drains can all cause pollution as well as animals getting access to the supply.

Private water supply fees and charges

These are the current fees and charges (2018/2019) for risk assessment, sampling, investigation and analysis of private water supplies. As this is a relatively new legal requirement for local authorities, these fees and charges remain under review.

Private Water Supply Fees and Charges
Risk Assessment
Commercial £180
Shared Domestic £173
Large/commercial   £100.00
Shared Domestic   £100.00
Check Monitoring: £210.00
Audit Monitoring:*(charges may vary depending on findings of risk assessment) £284.00 min* (including sampling and analysis)
Shared Basic Monitoring: £210.00 (including sampling and analysis)
Private Water Supply Register
Single entry copy £10.00
List of private dwellings £50.00
List of business premises £50.00
Copy of whole register £100.00
(all fees - plus VAT where appropriate)

Quality standards for water

Safe drinking water is essential to good health and so private water supplies must be properly protected and treated to prevent contamination by:

  • Micro-organisms
  • Chemicals or
  • Other substances such as lead

Indeed, water is at risk of being contaminated from everything that it comes into contact with. Every house must have a good supply of clean, wholesome, fresh water for it to be fit for people to live in.

What are the Councils responsibilities

The Commercial Services Team are responsible for monitoring every supply and must keep records of every private water supply within Torfaen in accordance with the Private Water Supplies (Wales) Regulations 2017. Amongst other things, these regulations require the Council to carry out a risk assessment of any shared, large or commercial supply. The regulations also specify how often the local authority must take a sample of water from a private supply, what tests must be carried out on the sample and how much to charge for testing the water. 

The Council may monitor private water supplies which serve a single, domestic dwelling and must carry out a sample at the request of the owner or occupier of the dwelling. 

Charges for risk assessments, sampling, investigation and analysis of shared and commercial supplies will apply. Requests for sampling by the owner or occupier will also apply, however routine monitoring of single, domestic dwellings are unlikely to carry a charge.

What if I am concerned about the quality of my water?

Torfaen Council’s Commercial Services Team can recommend ways to prevent pollution of your water supply and improve its quality.

If you are concerned about the quality of water supplied to your property from a private water supply, you can ask the Commercial Services Team to test a sample of the water. Be advised that Torfaen Council may charge you for this service. Even if there is a problem with the quality of your supply, there are a variety of treatment methods available to deal with most circumstances.

Further information

For further information on Private Water Supplies, contact the Commercial Services Team on 01633 648095.

Useful Links

The Drinking Water Inspectorate website. 

The Water Industry Act 1991 and the Private Water Supplies (Wales) Regulations 2010 can be viewed on the Office of Public Sector Information website. 

For information on drinking water quality visit the Welsh Water website. 

For information on private water supplies visit the Private Water Supplies website.

Last Modified: 05/12/2018
For more information contact:

Commercial Services Team

Tel: 01633 648095


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