Drinking water quality

Breckland staff carry out sampling and risk assessment for private water supplies under the provisions set out in the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016.

Most properties within Breckland receive their drinking water from a water company (mains supply), but some depend on private water supplies that may come from a variety of sources including wells and boreholes.

TheGovernment's Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) (opens new window)  assesses the quality of drinking water supplied by water companies in England and Wales. They ensure that the water authorities take appropriate action when any water is unfit for human consumption.

Mains water

Mains water is supplied by the local water authority. The main water authority in the area isAnglian Water (opens new window) .

If you have any queries relating to mains water, you should contact your water authority. If the matter is not resolved to your satisfaction, then contact the Consumer Council for Water, which is the industry watchdog.

Private water supplies

A private water supply (PWS) is any supply that is not provided by a water company. The supply may serve just one property or several through a network of pipes.

ThePrivate Water Supplies Regulation (opens new window)  applies to all private water supplies intended for human consumption, including drinking, cooking, food preparation and washing, and water used for food production.

Breckland council is responsible for monitoring PWS in its district. This includes conducting a risk assessment and ensuring regular sampling of the supply.

Risk assessments

All shared and commercial private water supplies are required by law to have a risk assessment carried out to assess the wholesomeness of the water for human consumption. This needs to be carried out every 5 years and aims to identify any potential problems that could affect the quality of the water.

A risk assessment will involve a site visit from an officer who will inspect the water source, surrounding areas, storage tanks, treatment systems, the distribution system and any servicing history you may have to determine if contamination is possible.

You will then be contacted to discuss any improvement measures required to protect or improve the quality of your supply. The cost of a risk assessment is £75/hour, with an average risk assessment taking 3 - 4 hours covering Pre-Visit RA Desktop Assessment, Site visit and travel time, Post visit RA Desk Top Assessment.


Private water supplies must also be sampled to determine if the supply is contaminated by chemicals or bacteria. The frequency of this determined by their usage:

  •  Supplies which have a commercial use (e.g. properties let out to tenants, food/drink manufacture, schools, farms or domestic supplies using more than 10 m3 per day) must be sampled a minimum of once per year.
  •  Small shared supplies using less than 10 m3 per day and where no commercial activity take place must be sampled a minimum of once every 5 years.

A note for landlords and tenants: In addition to the requirements of the PWS regulations, other legislation such as the Housing Act 2004, places a responsibility on landlords to ensure that their property is fit for human habitation and has a wholesome supply of water that does not constitute a danger to human health. To verify this, the council is required to ensure that the water supply is sampled at least once per year.

Breckland Council offers sampling services, but you may choose to use a private company to carry out the sampling if you wish. Please contact us to obtain a quote for sampling to be carried out. By email: ehbst@breckland.gov.uk or by phone on 01362 656870

If you do not want use Breckland Council, you will need to ensure that:

  • The private company uses sampling staff who are UKAS accredited to the ISO/IEC 17024 or 17025 standard.
  • The laboratory they use is UKAS accredited under ISO/IEC 17025 to the Drinking Water Testing specification

You will need to check this BEFORE you arrange for the private company to do the sampling. You will also need to check which parameters they will be testing for. Failure to do so may lead to the sampling results being deemed as unacceptable and for sampling to be carried out again to meet the minimum requirements.

Why use Breckland Council?

  • Our officers are UKAS accredited water samplers as required by the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) to demonstrate competency.
  • Our samples are taken, stored and transported in accordance with the DWI's recommendations so that our results are representative of the water consumed at the premises.
  • We send water samples to a laboratory which meets the minimum regulatory requirement for transport and analysis of drinking water, as it is UKAS accredited under ISO/IEC 17025 to the Drinking Water Testing specification, as required by the DWI.
  • The laboratory have certified that Breckland Council's sampling manual complies with the most up-to-date documentation held by them in accordance with the analytical methods accredited under ISO 17025.
  • We keep a record of water sampling results and risk assessment for the premises.
  • We compare your results with maximum limits for each parameter tested and will advise you of the steps to take if there is a failure.
  • We are required to carry out a risk assessment of the supply every 5 years and will inform you of any issues.

Tell us about your supply

We have a duty to keep up to date records of all private water supplies in our district.  If you have recently received a letter from us about your supply, please use the link below to download our pre-visit questionnaire. An officer will contact you to arrange an appointment for a site visit so that a risk assessment can be carried out. You can email the completed questionnaire to ehbst@breckland.gov.uk post to Breckland Council, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE.

Pre-visit Questionnaire (PDF) [193KB] (opens new window)

If you require any further information, or would like a well or borehole tested for chemical or bacteriological levels, please contact the team:

Last updated: 22/09/2023 14:00:03