Private Water Supplies

If the source of your water supply is not provided by a water company (for example United Utilities), then it is not considered to be a ‘mains’ supply.  In this case you have a private water supply.

A private water supply can be obtained from a variety of sources including springs, wells, boreholes, rivers, streams, lakes, ponds or water harvesting for example, and this supply may serve a single property, several properties or commercial premises.

It is essential that private water supplies are maintained in order to minimise any risk to health and that they have the same quality standards as the mains water supply.  Cheshire East Council has a duty to check the quality of all water supplies within our area and The Private Water Supplies (England) (Amendment) Regulations 2018 require us to risk assess, sample and analyse the water from these supplies.

The Regulations affect all private supplies although those serving a single dwelling will only be risk assessed and sampled upon request, unless these are newly installed supplies.

There is a fee for this service.

Risk Assessment

The Regulations require the Council to carry out a risk assessment at least once every five years. A risk assessment involves looking at the source of the supply, the surrounding area and anticipating what might lead to contamination. It also determines the parameters to be sampled for.


One of our officers will take the sample from a tap used to supply water for drinking or cooking. In food premises it will be taken from the point immediately before the supply is used for food preparation. We will have the water analysed for both chemical and microbiological parameters, depending on the risk assessment and upon the legislation. The aim of the sampling is to safeguard public health by ensuring supplies are wholesome, meaning suitable to drink.

Usually, water samples will be analysed at a UKAS accredited laboratory for a selection of metals, inorganic and organic parameters and microbiological contaminants. Sometimes, if supplies have a potential risk of contamination from radioactive sources (from geology or from man made contamination), then samples will be analysed for radioactive substances.

The results of the sampling will be forwarded to you with a letter, usually within 28 days of receiving them from the laboratory. The letter will explain the results and inform you if any remedial action is required to safeguard your supply.

What is required?

Sampling frequency:

  • Commercial/large domestic/rental supply (Regulation 9) - at least once a year
  • Shared domestic supply (Regulation 10) - at least every 5 years
  • Farm assurance testing (microbiological only) - as requested
  • Single domestic property - as requested
  • New supply or brought back into use after over a year - As soon as practically possible 

Risk Assessment frequency:

  • Commercial/large domestic/rental supply (Regulation 9) - every 5 years
  • Shared domestic supply (Regulation 10) - every 5 years
  • Farm assurance testing (microbiological only) - N/A
  • Single domestic property - N/A unless a sample is requested, then this is required prior to the sample being taken
  • New supply or brought back into use after over a year - As soon as practically possible

Water test failure

If a test fails and is considered a potential danger to human health, we will contact you as soon as possible. Any sample that fails to meet the prescribed concentrations will result in the supply being investigated to try and determine the reason for the failure. If a wholesome supply cannot be achieved through implementing physical changes to the supply network, then additional or upgraded water treatment equipment may be required.

Once you have completed any maintenance, we'll re-test the water to check the problem has been fixed. If your water supply isn't safe, we have a legal duty to serve a notice on you to improve your supply.


In the event of a failure, where a supply is found to be unwholesome, action is sought to remedy the problem/s. An improvement notice may be served that specifies the improvements to be made to the supply, the persons who should carry out the work and when this work should be completed by. In the event of a failure that is liable to cause an immediate risk to human health, a notice will be served that places a restriction or prohibition on the use of the supply. Failure to comply with a notice may result in prosecution in the Magistrates' or Crown Court.

Contact us

Telephone: 0300 123 5015



Page last reviewed: 09 October 2023