Drinking water legislation makes a particular provision for ensuring the water supply in public buildings remains wholesome. Unlike the traditional view of what a public building is, The Public Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2014 are concerned with premises where water is supplied to the public. There are similar provisions in Private Water Supplies Regulations where this is the means of water supply.
This means that not only public halls, libraries, schools and hospitals but cafes, restuarants, hotels, hostels, nurseries, hairdressers, sports centres, theatres etc., will fall into this category.
Proprietors of these premises are required to maintain their private distribution system so that the water supply remains wholesome. Ultimately and irrespective of the results of any water samples, the person responsible for the site is required to maintain their private distribution system such that it does not cause any failure of water quality standards.
If you are aware of or discover any lead in your drinking water system, you are strongly advised to eliminate this to ensure that lead exposure is kept as low as possible, whether or not there is evidence of regulatory standards breach.
Questions on lead in public buildings:
- What would happen if a sample fails the lead standard?
- Could I still use my water supply?
- How do things get fixed?
- Are there any powers to enforce repairs?
Scottish Water would carry out an inspection of the connection to the public water mains for which they are responsible i.e. pipe work before the property boundary stopcock – the communication pipe (Diagram), to confirm the absence of lead fittings or pipes. If these are found they will be replaced free of charge.
If Scottish Water do not find any lead in the pipe work for which they are responsible, or if the tests on any resamples fail after they have removed any lead pipes beyond the boundary, it suggests that the lead problem lies within your premises, or in the supply pipe from the boundary stopcock and it is the responsibility of the property owner to remedy this.
If a sample fails, since these are premises where water is supplied to consumers, you will be advised not to use the water supply for drinking or cooking purposes. Bottled water would be provided by Scottish Water until such time as they determine there is no lead in the pipework for which they are responsible, or have undertaken replacement of any lead materials in their pipework.
If tests on any resamples fail after they have removed any lead pipes beyond the boundary, it suggests that the lead problem lies within pipework for which the property owner is responsible and bottled water will be required to be used until the issues within the domestic distribution system are resolved. In these circumstances it would be the responsibility of the person responsible for the site to arrange for the continuing supply of bottled water and its use.
If the indications are that there is a problem within the pipework for which the property owner is responsible, Scottish Water will progress with an investigation of the private distribution system within the premises to determine the cause and extent of the failure(s). This would identify whether particular branches or elements of the private distribution system were confirmed as having lead materials present (or suspected to have where reasonable access to inspect is not possible). The person responsible for the site should engage a competent plumber and/or other building services contractor as necessary to investigate further and effect the replacement of any lead materials found.
The Regulations make provision for enforcement of works required to restore water quality and any Notices of Enforcement would be served by the local authority. Scottish Water are obliged to notify the local authority of any failures of the lead standard and to report on their investigations. The local authority would take a view on the need for enforcement action in consideration of the commitment shown to affecting any necessary repairs or further investigations.