Developing a new private water supply

Last updated: 4 September 2018

Installing and maintaining a new private water supply can be expensive and take a long time.

You should see if you can connect to the mains instead. This will mean:

  • Scottish Water will have responsibility for your supply
  • your supply will be good quality
  • your supply will be more reliable

If you develop a new private water supply, you should get advice from your local council.

You might be able to get a grant of up to £800.

Finding a source

Your new supply can come from surface water - a shallow well, spring, loch or river burn. Or ground water - a deep well, or by drilling a borehole.

You should risk assess and test water from your potential new source to find out what treatment is needed to make sure it's safe to drink.

Boreholes

These are holes drilled to access water that's deep underground. They can be expensive to dig.

The quality of water from boreholes is usually good, because it isn't usually affected by changes in the weather and land use.

Treating water from a borehole might be difficult, as some have a high metal and mineral content from the rocks that the water filters through.

A reputable company will be able to tell you what the water quality is like, and give you advice on what treatment you'll need.

Surface water

You'll need to make sure that the surface water you'll be using is reliable and does not dry up in summer.

This type of water is likely to contain bugs and chemicals from wild animals or existing discharges and landuse.

Its quality will change considerably after heavy rain, and can also be polluted by:

  • livestock upstream
  • septic tanks
  • pesticides
  • forestry work
  • roads

So it will need regular treatment and maintenance.

Protecting your source

You'll need to:

  • check there are no issues with the land around your water source
  • put a fence around it to stop animals getting too close
  • make sure it has a vermin-proof lid

If the supply runs through someone else's land, you'll also need to make sure you have the permissions you need to maintain and improve your supply.

You may need to make a formal change to your title deeds, or theirs, to do this.

Pipes, tanks and fittings

You should:

  • make sure you taps and connections are lead-free.
  • put in enough storage tanks to make sure you have enough water, but not so many that your water will become stagnant
  • make sure all pipes and fittings are made of approved materials, so they don't affect the quality of the water

If you're in Scotland this means they should conform to Regulation 33 of The Public Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2014, and be Water Regulations Advisory Service (WRAS) approved.

Creating a maintenance plan

A maintenance plan can help you make sure your treatment's working properly. It lists what you need to do on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis to make sure that your water's safe to drink.

Your plan, and the amount of detail in it, will depend on the type of treatment you have, and the consistency of your water source.

It may be as simple as using a diary to note down when you should check, clean or replace your equipment. If you have a more complex system, you'll need to monitor chemicals or other components regularly, too.

Your local council will be able to give you advice on maintaining your supply. If you hired a company to install your treatment, they'll be able to tell you how to maintain it.