Drinking water quality in Scotland: annual report on private water supplies

24 September 2019

Article: 53/3803

The Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) has published its annual report on the quality of private water supplies in Scotland.

According to the report, a total of 42,440 tests were taken from regulated private water supplies in 2018, which are those supplying more than 50 people or a commercial activity. Of these tests, 93.5% met the required standard, but 11% of these supplies had a sample that contained E. coli, a bug which indicates faecal contamination and potentially causes serious illness.

Compliance figures have not changed significantly for the past three years, suggesting that limited improvements are been made in spite of efforts by local authorities and the introduction of a Scottish Government grant.

Private water supplies were also affected by the dry weather in 2018 and local authorities reported that the owners of some 500 supplies contacted them for emergency assistance when their supplies ran dry.

Private water supplies are those owned and managed by individuals rather than Scottish Water and approximately 3.6% of the Scottish population receive their water from those spources. The supplies range from those serving a single house to much larger numbers of houses as well as hotels, tourist accommodation and other businesses. 

Many of the very small supplies have little or no treatment and where water from these supplies does not meet the standards, there may be a risk to the health of those drinking from them. According to the latest report, a significant number do not meet the required drinking water standards and need to make improvements.

Sources: Scottish Government and  DWQR, 18 September 2019