Private water supplies

The Inverclyde Council area has approximately 60 private water supplies serving both domestic and commercial properties

Safe drinking water is essential to good health. All private water supplies can pose a threat to health unless they are properly protected and treated. They may become contaminated with bacteria or other substances.

You may not be able to tell whether your water is safe as contamination may not change the smell, taste or colour of the water. Unlike public supplies, most private supplies are not treated to remove contamination.

What you should do

Find out about your supply :

  • Who is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance (if this is not clear, consider reaching an agreement with the other users)
  • Where is the source?
  • Where does it go to get to your property?
  • Is it treated in any way?
  • Is the treatment equipment in good order and serviced regularly? 

Keep your supply safe

Make sure you inspect all parts of your supply regularly, including the catchment area, to check it is in good order and has not been interfered with or damaged.

Supplies from springs, wells or boreholes

Check that the source is adequately protected to stop surface water getting into your supply, particularly at times of heavy rain.

Supplies from burns, rivers or lochs

  • The collection arrangement should include a settlement pond to allow larger particles to settle out before the water flows into your supply
  • The collection arrangement should include a sand or gravel filter to remove organic material and small animals – but these filters will not remove all bacteria or chemical contamination
  • Ensure that the water being collected is not contaminated by discharges further upstream from a septic tank, or by sewage

Supplies from farmland/land where animals graze or manure is spread

  • Divert rain water run-off so it does not flow into your supply (for example with a small ditch leading away from your supply)
  • Check that the farmer is aware of the drinking water supply and the need to avoid contaminating it by farming activity
  • Fencing may be necessary to stop farm and other animals from interfering with the water

If your supply has water collection chambers and/or storage tanks

  • These should have watertight walls and lids
  • Tops of chambers or tanks should be above ground level to prevent water from surrounding land flowing into them
  • Any overflow pipes or vents in chambers and tanks should be designed to stop animals and debris from entering
  • The collection chamber should not be close to any soakaway or drain

Water testing

The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 came into force on 3rd July 2006 and replaced The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 1992.

The 2006 Regulations defines supplies as either:

Type A - Supplies providing 10m3 of water a day or serving 50 or more persons; and supplies to commercial or public activities irrespective of their size. These require to be risk assessed in order to determine their adequacy. This can be arranged by contacting Inverclyde Council. A charge is applicable to the completion of the risk assessment. 


Type B - Supplies serving only domestic premises with less than 50 persons supplied. These can be risk assessed by Inverclyde Council or by a relevant person. Assistance and advice is available from Inverclyde Council.

Type A supplies fall within the provisions of the E.C. Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC) which requires each supply to be sampled and analysed for a wide range of parameters at least once a year. A charge is applicable to these samples.

Type B supplies are required to comply with a limited range of parameters that are defined in the Regulations and will not form part of a statutory sampling programme. A charge may be applicable to these samples.


Grants are available for the improvement of private water supplies. These can be up to £800 per property (or greater in the case of financial hardship).

If you would like any information on Private Water Supplies please contact the Customer Service Centre to speak to Environmental Health or click on one of the links on this page.

Page last updated: 30 March 2017