Private Water Supplies More Likely to Fail Water Quality Tests

Private water supplies in Scotland are more likely to fail stringent water quality tests than public supplies, warns the UK plumber approval body WaterSafe.

WaterSafe is highlighting the risk to public health as figures from the Drinking Water Quality Regulator show more than 10 per cent of tests on privately owned and operated water networks failed to meet drinking water quality standards in the latest published results.

This is an increase on 6.5 per centlast year and 125 times the rate of failures in public drinking water supplied by Scottish Water, which continues to be among the safest in the world.

Local authorities are responsible for regulating private water supplies – carrying out risk assessments and monitoring them. Each year the Drinking Water Quality Regulator, which regulates public supplies, publishes a report on private supplies based on the local authorities’ findings.

These findings have prompted WaterSafe and the Drinking Water Quality Regulator to urge private water supply owners and operators not to take any chances when it comes to protecting their networks – and customers – from potential contamination.

About 200,000 people in Scotland receive their drinking water from private water supplies, which supply homes, as well as schools, community halls, hotels, caravan parks, B&Bs and other businesses.

Water samples failed due to a number of reasons, including poor water quality at the source, insufficient treatment of the water or poor or no maintenance of the plumbing and treatment systems.

Julie Spinks, Director of WaterSafe, said: “There are more than 22,453 registered private water supplies in Scotland which supply drinking water to nearly 200,000 customers across households and businesses, but this report shows a worrying proportion of the samples taken have been deemed unsafe.

“Our message to those who own and operate these networks and sources of water is very clear – always be sure to employ a qualified plumber, such as WaterSafe approved as they are properly trained and competent in the water regulations which govern public water supplies. It makes sense to apply these same standards to private supplies to keep them equally healthy and avoid the risk of contamination right up to the tap.”

Sue Petch, the Drinking Water Quality Regulator, said: “It is concerning that the quality of private water supplies is not improving. It is vital that these supplies are improved so that people using them have a safe and reliable supply of drinking water.

“Local authorities can offer advice and support as well as enabling access to a Scottish Government grant to make improvements.

“Private water supplies have many risks, and it is vital that those working on them are competent to do so. We support WaterSafe, as its register of approved plumbers is there to help those responsible for protecting public health make an informed choice and not least ensure any work is done safely by a skilled and competent plumber using approved materials.”

The annual Drinking Water Quality Report for public and private water supplies can be read at

To find your nearest WaterSafe approved plumber in Scotland, simply enter your postcode at the right.

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