Water supplies interrupted due to drought

Significant periods of warmer drier weather could potentially lead to insufficiency of some shallower private water supplies.

Under the Private Water Supplies Regulations (England) (Amendment) 2018, all relevant persons/controllers/owners must ensure that there is a documented emergency plan to provide an alternative supply in the event of loss of supply because of drought, undetected leaks, pipe bursts or pump failures and or contamination.

Things for you to consider if your supply is insufficient :

  • Can you get access to an alternative supply of water? Please note - according to the Consumer Council for Water, each person will consume 150 litres of water a day. This figure is based on all aspects of consumption from drinking to doing the laundry.
  • Are any possible alternative supplies safe to use? Consider where the supply is coming from, whether it requires treating, and if there is a suitable amount of water available.
  • Where can you source bottled water? In an emergency situation it’s possible to get by on considerably less water for a few days so you can plan to use bottled water in the short term.
  • What are the potential causes of water failure and how can they be prevented? For example, if the water source has a low water output consider installing an holding tank that can refill during periods low demand.  Ensure your pump is positioned below the water level. Consider lowering if possible.
  • Can an agreement be made with others sharing the supply on when to conserve water or take action?
  •  What support can my neighbours provide?
  • Consider simple measures to conserve water such as:
  •  Using the 'short flush' on toilets where available
  • Taking short showers rather than long showers or a bath
  • Fixing leaks or dripping taps, checking animal troughs for overflowing
  • 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. using water from a rainwater butt to flush toilets, water gardens, wash cars etc.

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 bottled water
  • Hiring a water bowser

Alternative supplies may not be suitable water for human consumption but it may be used for some domestic purposes like flushing toilets.  Following restoration of the normal supply it is advised that all tanks and pipe work in connection, with the alternative source, should be disinfected before use.

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, temporarily stop the use of hot tubs/spas 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.

If you have not already done so, please forward a copy of your documented emergency plan to the Environmental Health Team.

Please note  There is no legal requirement for anyone to provide you with an alternative water supply in the event that a private water supply that you own fails.

However, if you are paying someone for water from a private supply you have the right to expect a wholesome supply which is sufficient to cover your needs (unless you have agreed otherwise).

Alternative supplies

If you get water from a supplier for people to drink you should ask suppliers to confirm they comply with BS 8551:2015 (Provision & Management of Temporary Water Supplies and Distribution Networks Code of Practice). The list of water treatment specialists may be able to advise on the provision of alternative supplies and on additional treatments for temporary suppliers if required. Providers of tankered water can be found by searching online for ‘water tanker hire’

Some local agricultural contractors may be able to help with emergency supplies but may not comply with BS 8551 - Provision and management of temporary water supplies and distribution networks (not including provisions for statutory emergencies) – Code of practice. You should not use this water for human consumption but it may be used for some domestic purposes like flushing toilets.

Private water supply owners should also continue with operational checks including where possible, including inspection of the source, storage and distribution network, ensure that maintenance is being carried out as required (e.g. replacing UV lamps or monitoring chlorine dose) and that they have sufficient spares of essential equipment to ensure supplies remain wholesome at all times.  A plan should also be prepared for instances where the water becomes contaminated.

Further advice