Mains water in Herefordshire is supplied by Welsh Water (Dwr Cymru) and in part by Severn Trent Water. These public water companies are monitored by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) which is part of DEFRA.
Private water supplies
It is estimated that between 5 and 10 percent of Herefordshire's population use a private water supply for domestic purposes. The council's environmental health department has statutory duties under the Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 to risk assess and monitor private water supplies. The council's activity with regard to private water supplies is monitored by the Drinking Water Inspectorate.
The Water Industry Act 1991 designates a private supply as 'any supply of water provided other than by a statutorily appointed water undertaker.' Most private supplies are situated in rural parts of the county and the source of the supply can be a well, borehole, spring, stream, river, lake or pond.
All private water supplies can pose a threat to health unless they are properly protected and treated. Water may be contaminated with bacteria, protozoa, parasites and viruses or other substances. Many organisms are harmless but if they are not treated properly may cause serious illness or even death to vulnerable people.
Guidance on using water supplies following an extended period of no or low water usage
After an extended period of low turnover or no demand, a water supply may deteriorate when left stagnant in storage tanks and pipework.
After such a period, as a minimum you should:
- Carry out progressive flushing of storage tanks and pipework, for tanks in each building, to introduce fresh water into the system before consumer access
- Check and complete necessary maintenance on all equipment to treat and disinfect the supply
As each system varies, the remedial actions required will be site specific. For example, hot water systems will need to be raised to a temperature of greater than 60⁰C, and full system disinfection may be required in some circumstances to achieve 50mg/L free chlorine. Therefore, further advice from a water specialist may be required.
For further information the European Society for Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Disease have produced the guidance for managing Legionella in building water systems during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Check your private water supply is on our register
The council holds a database of all known private water supplies in the county which enables us to respond effectively to such matters as pollution incidents and planning applications. You may want to check that the supply you are using has been notified to our department register and if not, complete the online private water supply notification form.
Risk assessment of private water supplies
To comply with the Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016, the council is required to carry out a risk assessment of all shared and commercially used private water supplies once every five years. A commercially used water supply can be one that supplies a food business, holiday home or a privately rented property.
The risk assessment is to establish whether there is a significant risk of supplying water that could be a danger to human health and involves inspecting the source, storage, distribution and treatment of the water supply with a view to identifying and eliminating potential sources of contamination. More details regarding the risk assessment can be found on the risk assessment page of the Drinking Water Inspectorate website. We charge for this service.
Example guidance and schematics are on the Drinking Water Inspectorate guidance page.
Monitoring water quality
The Regulations also require the council to sample shared and commercially used water supplies for a range of microbiological and chemical parameters. The frequency of the sampling depends on the volume of water used but is usually once a year. We charge for this service.
General enquiries regarding private water supplies
If you have any concerns about your water supply or want further information please contact the environmental health department below. If you are buying or selling a property on a private water supply please see our separate advice sheet.