Residential property
07 Dec 2018 News

The water intended for human consumption (Private Supplies) (Scotland) Regulations 2017

It’s not exactly a catchy title, but the above regulations might apply in more situations than you might think.  These regulations came into force on 27 October 2017.  It is important to realise that these do not completely replace the Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006, but are supplementary to the 2006 regulations.

The 2017 Regulations apply primarily to what is referred to as a “Type A” supply.  Type A supplies are those which supply a larger volume of water, serving 50 or more people, or more than 10 cubic metres per day.  Supplies below that level, typically domestic supplies, are known as “Type B” supplies.  Type B supplies are exempt from the 2017 Regulations, and are still regulated under the 2006 Regulations, although the Scottish Government has signalled an intention to introduce new regulations for Type B supplies, so watch this space.  

However, there are exemptions from the exemption, so even if the volume supplied is less than 10 cubic metres, or less than 50 persons, a supply is still classed as Type A, and subject to the 2017 Regulations, if water is supplied as part of a commercial or public activity, and/or to any premises used for a commercial or public activity, regardless of the number of people or quantity of water supplied.  According to guidance from the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland “commercial or public activity” includes any form of food production (except where the quality of the final product is not affected by the quality of the water), caravan sites, hotels, bed and breakfast establishments, hostels, holiday let accommodation, domestic premises which are rented out on a commercial basis, village halls etc, as well as any commercial premises where water is supplied for human consumption. 

The 2017 Regulations impose a duty on local authorities to keep a register of private water supply systems in their area.  The register is to contain the information set out in Schedule 1 to the 2017 Regulations including, among other things, a map showing the location of every part of the system, the identity of the owner(s) of land from which water is abstracted, as well as the owner of any land affected by the supply system, the address of buildings supplied, and any treatment carried out.

There is a duty on each person who owns land in any way affected by a private water supply to provide information about that supply to the local authority, and it is an offence to fail to do so.

The intention is that the register will be completed by 2019 with whatever information is available to the local authority, with a transition period until 2022 to fully complete it. 

The local authority is required to complete a risk assessment of every supply to which the 2017 Regulations apply by 1 January 2022.  They must then notify any person who occupies premises served by the supply that a risk assessment has been carried out, along with a summary of the findings and any recommendations to mitigate any risks identified. 

The 2017 Regulations set out quite technical parameters and standards, as well as the method of testing and analysis to be carried out.  The aim of course is to ensure that the supply is fit for human consumption, and if it is not then enforcement action can be taken.  The Local Authority may serve Remediation Notices, Enforcement Notices, and, in severe cases, Emergency Notices on any person whom it considers appropriate.  So for example an Enforcement Notice could be served to prevent spraying of pesticides which might affect a supply, even if the supply is not on the land on which the spraying is being carried out.

The overall scheme is subject to oversight by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator, and guidance can be found on their website at http://dwqr.scot/private-supply/.

Completion of the register in 2022 might seem some way off, and you may think that the 2017 Regulations will not apply to you, but it is clear that something as simple as renting out a cottage on the farm which is served by a private supply will bring you within the scope of the 2017 Regulations.  If you think you may be affected by the 2017 Regulations take action now.  Gather together the necessary information before the Local Authority comes asking for it.  At present grants of up to £800 per property are available from your Local Authority to assist with the capital cost of installing treatment systems so that supplies are fit for human consumption, but there is no guarantee how long the grant scheme will remain in place. 

For more information please contact Alan White or a member of the land and rural business team.

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