Maintaining your private water supply

Last updated: 28 February 2018

You must make sure that your private water supply is maintained.

This could mean protecting the source by making sure fences are well maintained. Or limiting the possibility of contamination, e.g. from pesticides, grazing animals or septic tank waste.

It is also important that your water treatment is operated and maintained appropriately. Otherwise, your supply may become unsafe and be a risk to your health.

This could be something as simple as making sure the UV filter is cleaned and the bulb replaced.

Also, if there are any storage tanks on your system, you may need to check them to make sure dirty water doesn't enter them. And they may need to be cleaned regularly.

Contact your local council's environmental health team for more advice.

What to do if your supply runs out

When pipes freeze or there's a drought, your water supply might be disrupted, or you might notice a reduction in the amount of water available.

You can reduce your current usage to conserve the supply, for example by:

  • taking short showers rather than long showers or a bath
  • not leaving taps running during cooking or cleaning
  • using other sources of water, like rainwater, for flushing toilets

Consider what you'll do if you run out of water. You can stock up on bottled water or ask your neighbours for help.

If you run a business that relies on a private water supply you should consider how a lack of water will affect your trade.

You can contact your local council's environmental health department who can arrange for support from Scottish Water.

Cleaning holding tanks

Over time, particles of dirt and minerals known as sediment will build up at the bottom of your tank. This might make your water dirty, or allow microorganisms to grow in it.

Clean your tank regularly to avoid any contamination.

To clean your tank, open it and drain out any remaining water. Remove the sediment that has built up by scrubbing or pressure-washing the inside walls of the tank.

You should dispose of the water, especially if it contains chemicals, in a way that doesn't damage the environment, or contaminate other springs, lochs or rivers nearby.

You should also let other users know that you are cleaning the holding tanks.

This are generic instructions. If you aren't sure how to do this, contact your local council for help, or read your manufacturer's instructions.

Protecting freezing pipes and tanks in winter

Very cold temperatures can cause water in supply pipes to freeze. When water freezes it expands which can cause pipes to crack.

You can cover your pipes with an insulating sleeve, or lay them underground. (Over-ground pipes are more likely to freeze and be damaged.)

If possible, don't expose pipes and tanks to sunlight. And they shouldn't be located near any heat source, so the stored water is kept as cold as possible.

Pipes or tanks that are exposed to weather will deteriorate faster and you'll need to replace them earlier.

Replacing oil and lead tanks used for storing water

Traces of oil might contaminate your supply and change the taste of your water. Lead tanks will contaminate your supply and affect children's neurological development.

So you should replace the oil tanks or lead tanks for water tanks as soon as possible.

Nowadays, tanks are made of plastic (polyethylene) and, as long as they're designed to hold drinking water and have a close fitting cover, they're unlikely to cause problems.

Look for the WRAS Approved Product logo. This ensures the material that the tank's made of is approved.

You should contact an approved plumber to replace your tanks with water storage tanks.

If you are a tenant, your landlord or managing agent should be able to tell you if the tanks need to be replaced.