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Scottish Private Water Supplies are regulated by local authorities using the Private Water Supply (Scotland) Regulations 2006, which update earlier regulations, and the Water (Scotland) Act 1980. All private water supplies are required to be registered with the local authority.  A full copy of the regulations can be found by clicking here, although we have prepared a shorter, more user friendly guide here.

If you get your drinking water from a private supply that serves 50 or more people or provides water to a commercial activity like a hotel, restaurant, bed and breakfast or campsite then the 2006 Regulations will classify the supply as a “Type A” supply.  This means that the drinking water quality will be monitored and assessed against the requirements set out by the European Union in the Drinking Water Directive of 1998.

If you get your drinking water from a private water supply that does not fall into the description of a Type A supply then it is a “Type B” supply and the drinking water quality only has to meet National standards detailed in the Regulations.  Either way the most important thing you can do is to know your supply and look after it.

Your private water supply is composed of the source, a pipe or pipes that convey the water to your home or premises and finally the plumbing within your home or premises.  You should know about all parts of the supply so that you can tell if something changes or goes wrongSome useful pointers are listed as follows:

Human Consumption

Under the reference ‘personal hygiene’ this also includes brushing of teeth.  There have been cases (in the Highlands) where a supply to a camp site became contaminated and people became with diarrhoea caused by the water and the only contact they had with the water was for the brushing of teeth.

Relevant Person

The relevant person(s) is defined by the local authority.  The relevant person is the person who

a)       Provides the supply

b)       Occupy the land from, or on which, the supply is obtained or located or

c)       Exercises powers of management or control in relation to the supply.


The local authority must notify whom they deem to be the relevant person.  This can be appealed against at the Sheriff’s court.  The appeal must be lodged within 21 days - the Sheriff’s decision being final.

Responsible Person

Means the person who owns, or is otherwise responsible for, a domestic distribution system.  This would refer to the pipework, tanks and any treatment within the confines of a property the ‘responsible person’ owns or, resides in.


Type ‘A’ Supply - The determination of the water quality of a Type ‘A’ supply is covered by EC Regulations.  This defines the chemical & pathogenic quality of the water and in Countries signed up to the EC these regulations are incorporated into the various member countries’ legislation.

For a Type ‘A’ supply the water shall not contain any micro-organism or parasite that shall be harmful to human health; or any substance at a concentration or value which would constitute a potential danger to human health.

The Scottish Regulations outline the parameters which should be looked at and detail the maximum values of those parameters to meet the requirements.  In addition to the microbiological parameters there are 26 chemical parameters in the directive which should be met.

In addition there is also the ‘nitrate formula’ which states:

(nitrate) / 50 + (nitrate3) < 1

Where the concentrations are mg/l for NO3 (nitrate) and NO2 (nitrite).

Type ‘B’ Supply - Type ‘B’ supplies are not governed by EC legislation.  They are dictated by each member country’s legislation and are therefore ‘National Requirements’.

Again, the not unreasonable requirement is that the water should not contain a micro-organism or parasite or substance at a concentration which would constitute a danger to public health.  The parameters covered by these requirements are not as detailed as the European Directive but do allow a good indication of water quality to be viewed.

These requirements & parameters are:

Coliform bacteria       nil
Conductivity            2500 max.
Enterococci             nil
E Coli                      nil
Lead                       25µg/L up to 24/12/2013 (and 10 thereafter)
Nitrate                    50mg/l
Odour                     qualitative
Taste                     qualitative
Turbidity                 4 NTU
Hydrogen Ion (pH)    6.5 – 9.5


Note:  pH minimum value is now 6.5 (previous 5.5 with a relaxation to 4.0). 

Temporary Departures – Type ‘A’ Supplies 

On Type ‘A’ supplies where a relevant person has reason to believe that a Type ‘A’ supply fails, or is likely to fail the wholesomeness requirement, then that person can apply in writing to the local authority for a ‘temporary departure’ from the provisions. 

The parameters which are allowed within this ‘temporary departure’ (Schedule 1 – Table B) are not microbiological parameters. 

They cover parameters such as nickel, selenium, copper etc. The procedure for applying for this departure is detailed in Part V of the regulations as is the process by which the local authority may grant it.  In effect, the authorisation is limited to three years although there are procedures for extending the time for up to 9 years by appealing firstly to the Scottish Executive and then to the European Commission. 

Type A Risk Assessments 

This is covered in Part VI of the regulations and comprehensive advice is given in The Technical Manual (www.privatewatersupplies.gov.uk) 

All Type A supplies have to be risk assessed by the local authority and any remedial action detailed to the relevant person. 

Where the local authority considers a Type A supply fails, or is likely to fail, the local authority shall immediately take such steps as are considered necessary to identify 

A  The cause & extent of the failure on potential failure. 
B  The microbiological & chemical parameters (in tables A & B of Schedule 1) which have ailed or are likely to fail.
C  If the failure is attributable to the domestic distribution system, maintenance (or lack of maintenance) of the system or neither of these.