How Can I Make Sure My PWS is Safe?

It is the responsibility of the owner or user of a private water supply to make sure that it is safe to drink and that it stays safe. All private water supplies in Scotland will require some form of treatment to ensure that this is the case. The treatment of water is a complex process that requires specialist knowledge, although it is not beyond the capabilities of an informed person. If in any doubt, however, the services of a specialist contractor should be sought.

 Where do I start?

In order to decide what needs to be done to keep a PWS safe, it is essential to understand the risks to quality that are present. A risk assessment is needed in order to identify the things that could threaten the quality of your supply at every stage from the source to the points at which the water is consumed. All Regulated PWS receive an annual risk assessment from local authorities, however it is important that owners and users understand the risks too. Even if you have an Exempt PWS, you should consider carrying out a risk assessment of your own supply. Things to think about include:

  • The quality of the water at the source under all conditions;
  • Ways in which contaminants could enter the supply throughout the system;
  • Materials used in the supply and how they might affect the quality;
  • Any treatment processes - how appropriate / resilient are they?
  • The design of the system - does it keep the water safe after it has been treated?
  • Is the maintenance of the system adequate?

It is important to consider risks that are present, but are currently controlled - for example a fence that keeps livestock out of the source will only work if it is maintained.

Once you have identified the risks you can start to prioritise them

Once you have identified the risks you can start to prioritise them and list things that need to be done in order to control them. A Drinking Water Safety Plan (DWSP) lists all the risks for a supply and what is being done, or needs to be done in order to make sure the water supply stays safe. You could consider creating a simple DWSP for your supply.