Private Water Supplies - Water Sampling

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Request Private Water Supply Sampling

Sampling of Water Supplies

Type A Supplies are routinely sampled as part of our statutory sampling programme.  The results of these samples are available on request.

Water sampling is carried out to determine the presence of bacterial and/or chemical contaminants which may have adverse health implications, affect the efficiency of any treatment installed, or the aesthetics of the water.

If you wish for your water supply to be tested please contact us to discuss your requirements.  There is a charge for this service, which is paid at the time of your request. Tests will be recommended dependent on the reason for testing, eg house sale, specific concerns/complaints, planning permission being sought, suspected illness.  There may be a charge for such tests and this information will be provided to you before you decide to go ahead.

The frequency of sampling and different bacteria and chemicals tested for are determined by the size, type and location of the supply and type of properties using the water.

i)   If  the same supply serving your property also serves the public or a commercial operation/premises, or is part of a large domestic supply:

  • We have a legal duty to assess and sample the supply at least once a year.
  • A commercial operation includes self-catering properties, food businesses, factories, sports centres, hotels, B & B’s, schools and campsites.

ii) If your property is domestic and served by a small domestic supply:

  • It may not have been sampled, and there are currently no plans to sample such supplies unless it is suspected that there is a problem with the supply, or we are requested to do so.
  • Should you wish to have your supply sampled, it can be arranged.
  • A fee is charged to cover sample and analysis costs. Please contact us for details.
  • If you have a query relating to Private Water Supplies, please contact environmental health online or for more information visit the Government Private Water Supplies website.

Illnesses associated with Private Water Supplies

Private water supplies can pose a threat to health unless the supply is properly protected and treated. You may not be able to tell whether your water is safe as contaminated water may smell, taste and look normal.

Waterborne infections such as Campylobacter, E.coli (O157), Cryptosporidium and Giardia can produce acute gastrointestinal symptoms, including sickness and diarrhoea, whilst chemical contaminants are more likely to lead to chronic, long term, health effects.

If you think your water supply may be affecting your health contact your GP. They can provide containers to enable you to hand in a stool sample for analysis. Also contact our water team and we can arrange to take a sample if appropriate.

Testing for lead content 

In Scotland, lead does not occur naturally in significant concentrations in our water supplies. The problem arises when drinking water comes into contact with lead supply pipes, lead tanks, lead solder joints on copper pipes, or inferior quality brass fittings and taps, particularly for longer periods (e.g. overnight/ weekends / holidays periods). This can result in high lead levels in the drinking water supply.

If you suspect you may have lead pipes, the council encourages you to undertake further works with a view to establishing whether lead is present and to take steps to replace them; and as a short-term, implement some precautionary measures to protect your health.

Information on the health effects of exposure to lead can be found on the NHS Inform website.

If you require water testing for lead please contact us. Drinking of water with high lead levels may affect neurological development in infants and boiling the water will not reduce lead levels. The normal solution is to remove lead pipe work or install special filters

For public mains water you should approach your water provider e.g. Scottish Water.

Checking mains water supplies

'Mains water' is provided by a water authority, in Scotland this will be Scottish Water.

For most problems involving the Public Mains you should approach your licensed water provider in the first instance(e.g. Scottish Water on 0845 601 8855 or visit the Scottish water website.

How long do you have to wait for sample results?

The first bacteriological results are normally known within 72 hours of reaching the laboratory however full chemical samples can take up to 6 weeks from the date of submission to the Service's Public Analyst.

If your water fails bacteriologically and what steps to take next

Failures can occur for numerous reasons: bacteriological and/or chemical. The absence of treatment will provide no protection to water users and it is expected that an untreated supply will fail bacteriologically numerous times throughout the year, especially if the supply comes from or is affected by surface waters.  Even having treatment (e.g. filters, Ultraviolet disinfection, or chlorination) is no guarantee of safe water unless treatment is adequately designed to cope with the raw water quality and flow rate (which may vary considerably throughout the year) at your property. Water treatment systems must also be carefully and regularly maintained according to manufacturer’s instructions.

We can carry out a risk assessment of the supply and produce a report of Approved Improvement Works. There are also non-means tested grants of up to £800 per property available to assist with the cost of improvement works to your supply.
Where you are responsible for other properties or users of the supply (e.g. tenants, holiday visitors, customers or staff) you must inform users about the sample failure(s) and ensure temporary measures are put into action until the cause has been investigated, and steps taken to rectify it. A further sample should then be requested to confirm any remedial works have been successful and the supply now meets the standards.  The type of temporary measures that you should put in place will vary depending on the parameter failed. For most bacteriological issues boiling of water prior to use for consumption (e.g. drinking, ice making, washing of foods) or use for personal hygiene purposes (e.g. tooth brushing), is required.

Should you wish to discuss a failure, organise a  risk assessment visit or access grant money please contact us.

The implications of a chemical or aesthetic failure

Failure of certain chemical or aesthetic parameters may pose a risk to human health; this may also affect the efficiency of any treatment system in place particularly Ultraviolet disinfection or chlorination. They may also indicate that any treatment on the system has failed to have the desired effect.

Where you are responsible for other properties or users of the supply (e.g. tenants, holiday visitors, customers or staff) you must inform the water users about the sample failure(s) and ensure temporary measures are put into action until the cause has been investigated, and steps taken to rectify it. A further sample should then be requested to confirm any remedial works have been successful and the supply now meets the standards. The type of temporary measures that you should put in place will vary depending on the parameter failed, please contact us for further advice.

Should you wish to discuss a failure, organise a  risk assessment visit or access grant money please contact us.