What does the DWQR do?
The Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQR) exists to ensure that drinking water in Scotland is safe to drink. This is done by ensuring that everything Scottish Water does safeguards the quality of the public supply, through a process of inspections and monitoring. DWQR enforces the requirements of The Public Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2014 and takes action where these requirements are not met.
Additionally, DWQR has a role to ensure drinking water is not only safe, but pleasant to drink and has the trust of consumers. Working with Citizens Advice Scotland, DWQR assists consumers who have concerns about the quality of their water supply where they feel Scottish Water has not adequately addressed them.
About 3% of the population receive their drinking water from private water supplies. While these are regulated by local authorities, the DWQR has a duty to oversee this while collecting and interpreting data on these supplies.
DWQR ensures that Scottish Water complies with its duties in respect of the quality of public drinking water supplies in Scotland. This is done by:
Auditing and inspecting Scottish Water’s water treatment works, operational activities and laboratories to ensure that the quality of drinking water is maintained at all times and that tests undertaken to check the quality of the water supplied are carried out accurately and reported correctly;
- Investigating Scottish Water’s response to events and incidents that could affect drinking water quality
- Receiving, interpreting and presenting data on water quality throughout Scotland
- Participating in the investment planning process to ensure that any necessary improvements to water quality are delivered
- Checking that Scottish Water responds appropriately to any concerns from consumers about drinking water quality and that information it publishes on the subject is accurate and appropriate
- Ensuring future issues that may affect drinking water quality in Scotland are adequately understood, and that any knowledge gaps are filled through research
- Providing Scottish Ministers with an annual report on the quality of drinking water in Scotland.
The DWQR also supervises local authorities’ enforcement of the regulations governing the quality of private water supplies in Scotland, which serve about 3% of the population. This is done by:
- Providing guidance to local authorities on the private water supplies regulations and the role of the local authority
- Monitoring local authorities’ progress with evaluating and improving the quality of private water supplies
- Receiving, interpreting and presenting data on water quality from private supplies throughout Scotland.
Section 7 of the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 created the role of Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland (DWQR) at the same time as creating Scottish Water.
As Scottish Water is publicly owned, the DWQR is responsible for enforcing The Public Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations and acts independently of Ministers.
Under Scottish law, the DWQR appoints a single Regulator, currently Sue Petch, who is assisted in her work by a small team of scientists, engineers and administrative staff within the Drinking Water Quality Division of the Scottish Government.
Powers of the Regulator
The DWQR has three main powers under the Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002
- The power to obtain information
- The power of entry or inspection
- The power of enforcement
Enforcement powers are used where Scottish Water has failed to comply with its duties under the Regulations:
- DWQR must specify the work to be done and a timescale
- Enforcement notices must be publicised to the population served by the affected supply
- If Scottish Water fails to comply with an enforcement notice it commits a criminal offence
- DWQR can arrange to have the necessary work done by a contractor and recoup expenses from Scottish Water
- The DWQR can vary and/or withdraw notices but must keep a register of any notices issued.