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Private water supplies

What is a private water supply?

In Gateshead, the vast majority of homes are served by the mains drinking water system administered by Northumbrian Water. Some houses, however, are served by private water supplies. A private water supply is one which is not provided by a water company. In England and Wales most private water supplies are in rural locations and are from wells, boreholes, springs or streams. The few private water supplies found in Gateshead are single private dwellings only. We have no known commercial premises on private water supplies.

Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009

The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 cover all private water supplies and private distributions systems. They came into effect in January 2010 and look to further safeguard public health by ensuring that supplies are safe to drink. The inspection and sample regime that councils have to undertake has been significantly increased. 

Private water supplies are categorised into four groups: 

  1. Single private dwellings. 
  2. Small domestic supplies supplying fewer than 50 people.
  3. Large domestic supplies supplying over 50 people or serving commercial premises.
  4. Private distribution systems (where mains water is then used to supply a number of onward properties, such as caravan parks).

Risk assessments and sampling requirements

The regulations require us to carry out a risk assessment of private water supplies every five years. This involves surveying the supply to identify potential contamination from the source to the consumer's tap, identifying possible prevention measures and treatment options. This will identify which parameters need to be sampled for when testing the water supply. We have five years to complete the initial risk assessments for all private water supplies as well as private distribution systems.

Single Private Dwellings: Single private dwellings will not require routine monitoring or a risk assessment. However, we can sample or risk assess at the owners request.

Small Domestic Supplies: The amount of monitoring will depend on the outcome of the risk assessment. However, it will be a minimum of once every five years. Supplies will be sampled for five basic parameters and anything else that arises from the risk assessment.

Private Distribution Systems: Monitoring must be carried out according to the outcome of the risk assessment.


Notices can be served to improve or restrict unwholesome supplies. Failure to comply with the notices may result in either works in default or prosecution in a Magistrates Court.

What are the charges?

A system of charging was introduced in the regulations so local authorities can recover the costs they incur. In the absence of central government funding we must recover costs from the supply owner. However, if you have a complaint about a private water supply this would not normally incur a charge.

ActivityMax. Charge permittedExample Charging SchemeComments
Risk assessment£500Hourly Rate x officer timeSimple risk assessment & report
Sampling£100Hourly rate and any analysis costsCharge for a visit and to take a sample
Investigation£100Hourly rate and any analysis costsCarried out in the event of test failure
Authorisation£100Hourly rate x officer timeApplication by the owner of a supply for permission to breach a standard temporarily whilst remedial work is carried out
Analysis :-
Under Reg 10 (Domestic Supplies)£25Analysis costs, not to exceed £25Where a supply provides <10m3 / day or < 50 people and is used for domestic purposes

The fee charged will reflect the time that officers spend carrying out the statutory risk assessment, and the officer time and payments we make to a contractor to carry out water sampling and analysis.


Contact us

Environmental Health
Civic Centre
Regent Street

0191 433 3000