Loss of supply for private water supply users

When there are issues relating to sufficiency or quantity with public water supplies, Scottish Water take steps to ensure safe drinking water is available to its users. This may include providing bottled water or bowsers.

When there are issues relating to sufficiency or quantity with public water supplies, Scottish Water take steps to ensure safe drinking water is available to its users. This may include providing bottled water or bowsers.

For private water supplies the situation is different and the responsibility lies with the users of the supply or any third party who provides or manages the supply by contract. Private water supplies may provide insufficient quantities of water for a number of reasons. These may include periods of drought or severe cold weather (when the source dries up or freezes), but also due to undetected leaks, pipe bursts or pump failures, this would also include where users are permanently disconnected by a person who has control of the supply. It is therefore advisable for users to consider how they could manage should the supply be disrupted for any reason. First steps are likely to include reducing current usage to conserve the supply and considering where you could access drinking water should the supply cease.

General advice on water conservation, applicable to both private and public supplies can be found on the Scottish Water Website.

Simple measures include:

  • Using the “short flush” on toilets where available, or fitting a device that reduces the amount of water used to flush the toilet,
  • Taking short showers rather than long showers or a bath,
  • Fixing leaks or dripping taps,
  • Not leaving taps running when cleaning teeth or washing vegetables etc.,
  • Ensuring all water tanks are covered to reduce evaporation (this will also reduce the risk of contamination of your supply),
  • The use of grey water e.g. from a rainwater butt for flushing of toilets and therefore conserving the availability of the drinking water.


You are encouraged to consider how you would deal with any disruption to your drinking water now and not wait until it runs out.  Things for you to consider are:

  • Can an agreement be made with others sharing the supply on when to conserve water or take action?
  • What support can my neighbours provide?

Where can I access an alternative supply of drinking water? This may include:

  • From neighbours on a different supply,
  • Connecting to an alternative source (if available)
  • Purchasing of bottled water

If you run a business that relies on a private water supply you should consider how a lack of water will affect your operations. You may be able to limit the services you provide or look at outsourcing some tasks such as laundry etc. which would reduce the amount of water you use. If you cannot operate the business safely you may need to close until a water supply can be reinstated or an alternative supply be found.

Users of private water supplies should also be aware that the quality of their water and its chemical characteristics may also change when levels are low and when the supply is returning to normal levels. This may mean coloured water that can affect the effectiveness of treatment systems, increased levels of solids being washed into the supply during heavy showers and increased surface water run off which could include high levels of bacteria. If you note any changes to your supply it is recommended that you boil the water before use, particularly for vulnerable groups such as the young, elderly, immune-compromised and those not used to normally consuming public health risk the environmental health department may request that Scottish Water provide a limited alternative supply.

In extreme cases, where there are no alternative options and there is an imminent public health risk, Scottish Water may provide a limited alternative supply. However, this is likely to be a chargeable service and charges will include delivery costs which could be considerable.

Grant Assistance Available

Users of private water supplies may wish to consider the installation of increased storage provision if insufficiency is a regular issue. The current private water supply grant scheme can assist in the provision of increased storage where adequate treatment of the supply already exists. A grant of £800 per property served is available for further information visit www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/pws.

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