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Water quality and safety

Anglian Water are responsible for supplying mains water to most premises in West Northamptonshire, however Severn Trent Water and Thames Water also supply parts of the district. They are responsible for ensuring that the water they supply is safe to drink. We work with Anglian, Severn Trent and Thames Water, checking compliance with standards and responding to any incidents.

We have a statutory duty to monitor the quality of private water supplies (water that is not provided by a water company).  We can also monitor bathing water in swimming pools and spa pools in the district if requested or as part of an investigation.

If you have any problems with your mains water supply or your wastewater services, you should contact your provider

The Drinking Water Inspectorate are the national body for ensuring the quality of water and they regulate the water companies.

Any premises that get their drinking water from a spring, well or borehole that is not provided by a water company is deemed to be a private water supply. We monitor certain private water supplies in the district to ensure the water they provide is safe to drink.

If a water company such as Anglian Water provide water to your site and you are responsible for the onward distribution of that water to other premises then this may be a Private Distribution System.

Facilities that provide swimming pool and spa pool facilities must regularly monitor the quality of their bathing water to check that it is safe for customers to use. We have facilities to monitor these premises if requested by the Operator or as part of a complaint investigation or infectious disease outbreak. The Health and Safety Executive and Health Protection Agency have developed joint guidance on the management of spa pools to control risk of infection.

Further guidance on the management of water quality in swimming pools is available from the World Health Organization and from the Pool Water Treatment Advisory Group.

In January 2010, The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 came into force. These regulations have now been superseded by the Private Water Supplies 2016 (2018 as amended). These regulations detail which premises require Local Authority monitoring and what form of monitoring is required.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate have produced a number of leaflets and advice documents summarising the regulations.

Private water supplies are now categorised as follows:

Large/commercial supplies:

  • serves 50 or more people or
  • uses more than 10m3 per day of water or
  • the water is used for commercial purposes (including food preparation) or serves a premises to which the public have access

Small supplies:

  • serves two or more properties
  • serves less than 50 people or less than 10m3 per day
  • the water is not used for any commercial purpose or public premises

Single Domestic supplies

  • supply to a single property where there is no commercial or public use

For large supplies and small supplies we are required to carry out a risk assessment on the supply. This risk assessment looks at the source of the supply and the surrounding area to see if contamination is possible. It also involves checks of the storage tanks, treatment systems and the pipework to ensure that any action necessary is taken to ensure the water supply is safe to drink. Risk assessments must be carried out every five years.

We are also required to carry out sampling at these supplies but the frequency of sampling and the parameters tested are dependent on the outcome of the risk assessment and the size of the supply. Large supplies are sampled at least every year and small supplies every 5 years.

We are not required to undertake sampling for single domestic supplies except at the request of the owner or occupier or in the event of a complaint.

The Regulations introduced a charging system for private water supplies risk assessment and sampling. The fees are laid down in the regulations an on our fees charging page, the charges are a direct recharge of officer time and laboratory sample testing fees. The Drinking Water Inspectorate website provides this information along with details about sampling parameters, frequencies.

Detailed technical information and guidance is available at the private water supplies webpages.

A water company may supply water to a boundary of a premises and the person responsible for the premises supplies it onwards to other buildings or properties on the site which have different occupiers.

This further distribution of water is known as a Private Distribution System and the regulations introduce responsibilities for the person in charge of the distribution.

We are required to identify private distribution systems in the district and to carry out a risk assessment on the pipes, storage tanks etc which join the buildings. Monitoring will then be undertaken to check that measures are in place to ensure the water is safe.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate are developing guidance on private distribution systems which will be available on their website.

Restriction / Prohibition Section 18 Notice

If the supply constitutes a risk to human health we can serve a ‘Section 18 Notice’ on the relevant person(s) to prohibit or restrict the use of the supply. It will be an offence to breach or fail to comply with a Restriction Notice.

Improvement Notice Section 80 (Water Industries Act 1991)

Where we cannot gain an informal agreement of remedial works we may serve an ‘Improvement Notice’ on the relevant person(s). We will specify in the Notice what works or measures are necessary to remedy a failure and the compliance period. We have the power to carry out works and recover the costs from the relevant person(s).

If you have any further questions regarding your water supply or water quality please email [email protected]

Last updated 25 October 2023