Private water supplies

The Private Water Supply Regulations (2009) require a catchment risk assessment to be undertaken for all private water supplies that serve more than one house.  This includes testing for selected pollutant and natural chemicals in the drinking water. Local authorities are responsible for compliance with the regulations.

Mortgage companies may also request a hydrogeology survey of a private water supply, as part of the conveyancing process, to ensure wholesomeness and sustainability of the water supply. 

Stephen Buss Environmental Consulting, and associates, offer a suitable service to homeowners, and drinking water providers, to undertake catchment risk assessments and interpretative reports for either purpose. 

Catchment Risk Assessments

The catchment to a private water supply is the area within which infiltrating rainfall may become part of the water supply. In a catchment risk assessment we check what activities go on (and have gone on) in the contributing area. We assess whether these may pose a risk to the safety of your drinking water, and make a judgement of the level of risk that is posed. Our risk assessments are undertaken in three stages:

  • Based on the location of your source we estimate what the catchment is likely to be and search modern and historical maps and other datasets to make a preliminary assessment of activities in the catchment.  If any particularly risky activities are identified we will highlight this for special attention during our visit. Depending on the risks we perceive may be present in your catchment, we may recommend analysis for specific chemicals in your water sample.
  • We visit your source to ground-truth and enhance the catchment risk assessment, by observing any features of interest or concern. We will examine your source at the collection area, and if available, the pipework, storage tanks and treatment. We will take a sample of water from the source and/or the drinking water tap for lab analysis.
  • Once the results of the lab analysis isreturned, we review these against standards for wholesome drinking water and make a report to you.  We make a clear statement whether your water has passed the risk assessment; or we clearly highlight any areas of concern, and indicate what your options are for dealing with them. If the source needs to be upgraded to meet modern standards of spring / wellhead protection, we will make suitable recommendations.

Associates are based across the country so that we can serve most regions in England and Wales, so minimising travel costs. We use local labs wherever possible to avoid the need for couriers. 

Reliability of Supply

Many private water supplies, especially spring sources, have fluctuating water availability. As part of mapping the catchment to your supply we use available topographic, hydrological and geological data to develop a conceptual understanding of the source of water to your spring, well or borehole. Using this we will estimate how sensitive your supply is to drought relative to a typical supply in the area. We cannot, of course, guarantee that a source will provide a continuous supply.

Of course, the best information on this is historical local knowledge and we would encourage you to determine the reliability of the source from your local contacts.