A private water supply could originate from a borehole, spring, private well, stream or other water source. Unless the property has a borehole, the water supply essentially derives from rainwater which collects in field drains, shallow wells or field springs. Boreholes tend to be much deeper and are less likely to be contaminated by ‘surface derived’ water but have other potential contaminants such as iron, manganese, copper etc and can also contain infections such as E.coli, which can cause diarrhoea, stomach cramps, high temperature, nausea and headaches and in the worst case scenario, kidney failure. Young children and elderly people are most at risk from becoming ill by drinking a contaminated private water supply.
All private water should be tested regularly to ensure there is no infection or bacteria present. This is not necessary with a public water supply as that is treated with chlorine which kills the bacteria. Private water supplies should be treated with an ultraviolet system which will rid the supply of any harmful bacteria without altering the taste of the water (unlike chlorine) or removing the minerals.
If you are buying a property with a private water supply, it is vital to enquire of the Seller whether he/she has experienced any issues with the private water supply in relation to quality or quantity. Build up a history of any past contamination by asking for previous tests which have been carried out. Test a sample of water taken from the water source in a laboratory. If you purchase a property with a contaminated water supply, it is vital to have the contamination removed. Remember, if the Local Authority is aware that the property is affected by a contaminated water supply, the Local Authority could take enforcement action against you under the Private Water Supply Regulations.
You should carry out further investigations/due diligence to:-
• ensure that the source is protected from contamination by grazing animals or material washing down from upstream;
• ensure the water is adequately disinfected prior to use;
• make sure the water is stored and distributed to avoid it becoming contaminated after treatment and disinfection but before it is consumed.
• ensure that appropriate equipment is installed and maintained to treat water to a consistently satisfactory quality
You should also check whether the source supplying your water (and the pipes and other equipment) is situate on the land you are intending to buy or whether it is on somebody else’s land. If so, you need to ensure that appropriate easements are in place for not only receiving the water supply from third party land but also the right to gain access to that third party land for inspection, maintenance and repair purposes. You will also need to check whether you require an Abstraction Licence from Natural Resources Wales.
Also investigate how many other people use the source and whether the supply diminishes dramatically during the summer when not only households are drawing on the water supply but also animals. Another consideration is to look into carefully who will pay for and carry out repairs, renewals and maintenance to the system and who supplies the electricity to the pump and the UV filter. There is also the added complication of ascertaining who is responsible for maintenance of a leaking pipe if it is supplying different properties?
You should also investigate where the nearest mains pipeline is located in case you have to resort to connecting your property to the mains in the future.
Finally, before you commit to purchase, taste the water supply. It’s no good buying a property which has a water supply that tastes of pencil shavings unless you like that sort of thing!
If you require any further information on this, please contact our Property Dept on 01267 237441, ‘option 1’.