Argyll and Bute residents who use a private water supply are being urged to make the most of a Scottish Government grant scheme to improve water quality.
The Private Water Supply Grant Scheme is an initiative funded by the Scottish Government to improve people’s health by ensuring all water supplies are up to modern standards.
So far, more than £1million (£1,065,149.90) has been paid out in grants to improve private water supplies in Argyll and Bute. This money has directly improved the supply to 2207 properties across the area.
However, the 629 applications so far received represents less than half of the 1,600-plus private water supplies in Argyll and Bute.
The council’s environmental health team is now highlighting that the money is still available, and local residents who have not already benefitted from it are being urged to take advantage.
All owners and users of private water supplies – whether domestic or commercial - are eligible for a non-means tested grant of up to £800 per property towards the cost of undertaking improvements on their supply.
Treatment is usually straightforward and does not affect the taste of the water. In most cases it involves pre-filters and an ultraviolet lamp rather than any chemical treatment.
Councillor Bruce Marshall, Argyll and Bute’s environment spokesperson, said: “The most serious risk to health from private water supplies in Argyll and Bute is posed by microbiological contaminants which originate from livestock and wildlife.
“The symptoms of illness caused by such pathogens range from mild flu-like illness or stomach upsets to very serious infection which can be particularly bad for infants, the elderly or those with immune deficiencies.”
Scottish Government studies carried out in 2002 suggest that people are 22-50 times more likely of becoming ill though drinking water from a private supply as they are from a public supply.
Councillor Marshall said: “Fortunately, the majority of water supplies do not require expensive and complex water treatment systems. For most supplies, the installation of a simple filtration and sterilisation system , together with ongoing basic maintenance, is all that is required ensure your supply is of a good quality and free from potential harmful microbiological activity.
“Our experience has found the cost of installing an ultraviolet sterilisation unit and filter set to a property ranges from £700 to £1500 depending on specific requirements of the supply. These costs may be reduced if you can communally treat your supply with other users.
“I would urge anyone who has not already taken advantage of this grants scheme to do so. It’s an opportunity which should not be missed.”
Anyone considering applying for a grant must do so – and have their application confirmed – before starting any work. Grant assistance cannot be offered to works which have already begun.
There are a number of contractors undertaking these installations across the region, and all works to date have succeeded in bringing water supplies up to the modern standards.
Owners can also undertake the installations themselves should they have some DIY experience – guidance on the treatment equipment required will be provided as part of the grant process.
Users of supplies which are already treated can apply for grant assistance to aid the improvement or replacement of inadequate systems, e.g. replace point-of-use ultraviolet units (kitchen tap only) with units to treat the supply to the whole property. Grant assistance can also be used to improve other parts of your water supply system which affect the quality and availability of the supply e.g. dilapidated storage tanks, external pipe work or catchment areas.
If any supply is used for purely domestic purposes, the entire grant process is free of charge and there is no ongoing requirement for the council to test the supply.
However, if the supply supplies water to the public in any form (including self-catering properties, B&B, hotels) then the owner has a statutory duty to ensure it meets the standards set out in the regulations. The council has a duty to assess and monitor supplies which are provided to the public.
For more information on the grant scheme or to request a grant application pack please email email@example.com or visit http://www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/pws.