Private Water Supplies

General Information

Private water supplies are those which are not provided by Scottish Water. There are over 840 Private Water Supplies in Moray serving over 2110 properties, both domestic and commercial.

These supplies come from springs, wells, boreholes, burns or lochs and unlike public supplies are generally not treated to remove contamination.
Private supplies are managed and maintained by the owners of the properties they serve but the quality and quantity of the water they provide is covered by Government Legislation and is monitored by the Council.

The Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies) Scotland Regulations 2017, The Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006 and The Private Water Supplies (Grants) (Scotland) Regulations 2006 are currently in force.

Details on these Regulations and general advice on private water supplies can be found at

Public Health and Private Water Supplies

Unlike public or mains water supplies, private water supplies are not always treated to remove contamination. Contamination can be bacteriological in nature, from faecal matter such as animal droppings, or may arise from chemical sources, such as fertiliser run-off from fields or deterioration of distribution pipe work. All private water supplies can pose a risk to health unless they are properly protected and treated.
You may not be able to tell whether your water is safe, as contamination may not change the colour, smell or taste of the water. Water borne bacteria such as Campylobacter, E.coli O157, Cryptosporidium and Giardia can cause diarrhoea and vomiting, whilst chemical contaminants are associated with an increased risk of long term health effects.


All private water supplies must be registered with the Council and we are continually updating our existing register.

The register of private supplies may be shared with other public bodies such as Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) to ensure that the water quality of these supplies is not compromised by agricultural or forestry activities, new developments or pollution incidents etc.

We may also, from time to time, contact you with relevant information should Legislation change etc. It is also essential that we are able to contact everyone who may be using a supply in the event a problem occurs.

Should you wish to ensure your property is contained on our register or update existing information use this form or use the contact details at the end of this webpage..


There are two types of supplies that are categorised based on the Regulations that govern them. Both must meet wholesomeness standards.

2017 - Regulated Supplies or Regulation 2 supplies - Supplies serving 50 or more persons in total, or supplies to commercial or public activities irrespective of size, (these are regulated by the Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies) (Scotland) 2017), or
2006 - Type B Supplies  - Supplies serving only domestic premises with less than 50 persons in total supplied (These are regulated by the Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006).

2017 Regulated or Regulation 2 or Commercial supplies are supplies that fall within the provisions of the E.C. Drinking Water Directive (98/83/EC) which require each supply to be sampled and analysed for a wide range of parameters at least once a year. These supplies serve premises of a commercial or public nature and includes self -catering premises, hotels, schools, food businesses, factories, sports centres, B&B's, campsites, village halls and domestic let property (including Private Landlords and Social Landlords such as Housing Associations).

Commercial premises are also required to display an information notice.

A water safety maintenance plan should also be in place to ensure that the routine maintenance has to be undertaken to maintain optimum water quality and to minimise the risk of contaminated water being consumed.

We routinely monitor these high risk supplies as part of our statutory duties via a sampling programme. There is a charge for this and the level of charge will depend upon the exact range of parameters for which the sample requires to be analysed. The information gathered is made available in the form of a Public Register of Private Supplies . In addition these supplies are also required to have a Risk Assessment carried out by the Local Authority at least once in every 5 years and more frequently if changes occur. This Risk Assessment provides information to owners and users regarding any actions to be taken to improve the supply and reduce any risks to human health that may arise from its use.

2006 Type B supplies are required to comply with a limited range of parameters that are defined in the regulations and do not form part of our statutory sampling or risk assessment programme. We will carry out sampling or Risk Assessments on request and there is usually a charge for this service.

House sales - This Service is regularly contacted by solicitors and individuals, intending to sell or buy a property served by a Private Water Supply, in order to have the water sampled to ensure it meets Drinking Water Quality Standards. Domestic Private Water Supplies are the responsibility of the relevant person for the property to ensure the Private Water Supply system, water quality tests and legal title to water are fully functional and are up to date and correct at the time of buying or selling a property. Water testing and Risk Assessments of Private Water Supplies can be undertaken by Moray Council Private Water Supply team and can visit the property for a sample as soon as a mutually convenient time for access can be arranged.

The property seller must ensure suitable filtration and disinfection treatment is fitted and properly maintained before we visit, to avoid costly resampling and possible delays in the conveyancing.

The cost of this service is detailed here.

This includes collection and delivery of samples to the laboratory, reporting of results and advice with regard to any remediation of the supply which may be necessary.
You must note that any subsequent resamples will be charged for according to the parameters sampled.
We will report the results only when all the results have been received from the laboratory, please note that this can take several weeks. We strongly advise that you contact us at least 8 weeks before the likely completion date.
For further information on house sales this checklist has been produced.

Short term holiday let licensing on a Private Water Supply

Under the Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies) (Scotland) Regulations 2017,  the Council will require to sample your private water supply at least once per year to ensure safety for public use (see 2017 Regulated or Regulation 2 or Commercial Supplies set out above).  This testing is done to show that your supply is “wholesome” and both the chemical and bacterial parameters need to be satisfactory under the 2017 Regulations.   The charge for this sampling is set out here.

You are also responsible for displaying an information notice for your guests to see so that they are aware the premises has a private water supply as well as having a water safety maintenance plan in place.  Routine maintenance has to be undertaken to maintain optimum water quality and to minimise the risk of contaminated water being consumed.

The new short-term let licence requires licence holders comply with the requirements of the 2017 Regulations as a mandatory licence condition.   Please note, your ability to obtain or keep a short-term let licence may be affected by any failure to follow and comply with the Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies)(Scotland) Regulations 2017.

The Council’s Environmental Health Service are consultees to every short-term let licence application.  If you have a private water supply and use the premises for short-term letting, we recommend you contact to discuss your responsibilities under the 2017 Regulations before you submit an application for a short-term let licence.  This will give you time to take any necessary action under the 2017 Regulations if required, for example, obtaining a satisfactory water sample. 

Advice on receiving a Boil Water Notification

If you have recently received a boiled water notice (Example of a Boil Water Notice) by post or email then we offer the following advice.

A sample of water has been analysed from the source which supplies your water.  The results of the analysis have identified that the water is contaminated with bacteria.  The failure may not relate to your property but it relates to your supply.

Until remedial measures designed to reduce this risk are put in place, I would advise that you boil all water or use an alternative wholesome source for the purposes of drinking, cleaning teeth, preparing babies feeds and disinfecting feeding equipment, preparing food including ice cubes and salads, pet food and drink, washing open wounds.

You can still use tap water that has not been boiled for bathing, showering and washing, except open wounds, washing dishes (if hand washing dishes use hot water, appropriate antibacterial washing up liquid and dry thoroughly before use or alternatively use a dishwasher).

Your private water provider, who may be your landlord or owner of the land on which your private water supply source is located, may be best placed to answer your initial concerns or provide timescales for remedial work. The landlord or owner of the land where your private water supply is located will be notified what remedial action is required.

If your property has a water treatment system fitted we suggest that you check or get a contractor to check and ensure that the system is working correctly and maintained to the manufacturer’s guidelines.

Once a boiled water notice is in place, Moray Council private water supply team will inform you when your private water supply water passes all the biological and chemical criteria. Once a boiled water notice is in place it will not be stood down or withdrawn, but it would be thought as being completed once a water resample is taken and the sample results meet the required criteria. Moray Council private water supply team will resample your private water supply once the remedial works have been completed by those responsible for the supply and the system. There would be charge for this water test if you request a resample to be taken.

If you do not have water filtration fitted there are may be grants currently available from Moray Council to improve your water supply (see next section below ‘Grants’)

For further information in the first instance you should contact your landlord or owner of the land from where your private water supply source is located, or contact Moray Council private water supply team on the details below. 

Maintenance advice for existing supplies

Following the Risk Assessment of a supply and the installation of any required treatment systems and protective measures, routine maintenance has to be undertaken to maintain optimum water quality and to minimise the risk of contaminated water being consumed.
For information on how to achieve a safe water supply, please read our water safety maintenance plan.


The Grant Scheme is non-means tested and you may be eligible for financial assistance if:

• Your home or business is in the Moray Council Area and served by a private water supply;
• The private water supply is the main or sole source of water for human consumption purposes to these premises; and
• Your private water supply is in need of improvement to bring it up to modern standards.

If you share your supply with a number of neighbouring premises, you may wish to consider making a joint application. A joint application can be submitted in respect of all the premises served by the supply, by you and the other owners or occupiers acting together. In the majority of cases, a joint approach is likely to provide the most effective long-term solution to improve your water quality.

The cost of improving a private supply can vary hugely and there will be instances where the supply requires work that exceeds the £800 grant limit per household. In such cases, it will be your responsibility to meet the additional costs. We can provide information and advice about the Grant Scheme and supply a grant application form which we will assist you to complete.

You should not start any of the improvement works before your application is approved and we have agreed that the expenditure is necessary. A risk assessment of your supply will be carried out by a member of staff from the Private Water Supply team to establish the details of improvements required to conform to the Private Water Supplies (Regulations) 2006. The cost of risk assessment (and any associated sampling during the risk assessment) will be borne by the Scottish Government provided a grant application is submitted.

There are some exceptions to Grant approval, the most common being:

• New builds post 3rd July 2006.
• Houses under Closing Orders, Demolition Orders or a Dangerous Building Notice.
• Empty or unoccupied premises.

Further details of these restrictions and others can be supplied upon request.

If you would like further information about Private water supply grants, this can be found on the mygov site or by making contact with the Private Water Supplies team on the contact details at the bottom of this page.


Water Scarcity

The North-East of Scotland has seen an increase of water scarcity over the previous years due to an increasing pressure on water supplies and lack of forecasted rain and snow has not replenished supplies sufficiently.

Moray Council and Scottish Water are prepared to provide support to properties served by a private water supply which experience water shortages and are encouraging everyone to use water wisely.

Private water supply users are being encouraged to:

•ensure your supply is secure, with no leaks
•consider moving livestock to an alternative supply
•take timed showers as opposed to baths
•ensure washing machine and dishwasher are fully loaded
•harvest rainwater for gardening use
•contact neighbours, to discuss your contingency plan

Further tips on using water wisely can be found at

If your private water supply is close to running dry or has run dry, please contact us on 0300 1234561 or email 

If you are having issues relating to the water supply for livestock and crops then click here to access the following advice from SEPA before making contact with them.

Connecting to mains water

'Mains water' is provided by a water authority, in Scotland this is Scottish Water.

For connecting involving the Public Mains you should approach Scottish Water on 0845 601 8855 or visit the Scottish water website.

Lead in Drinking Water

In Scotland, lead does not occur naturally in significant concentrations in our water supplies. The problem arises when drinking water comes into contact with lead supply pipes, lead tanks, lead solder joints on copper pipes, or inferior quality brass fittings and taps, particularly for longer periods (e.g. overnight/ weekends / holidays periods). This can result in high lead levels in the drinking water supply.  Information on the health effects of exposure to lead can be found on the NHS Inform website. External website logo

Radon Sampling of Drinking Water

Scottish legislation which was introduced to comply with an EU Directive on radiation required Local Authorities to test for radon in private water supplies. To determine which properties to sample we use details on a UK wide radon map produced by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA). Further information about the maps and radon can be found at

If you have been advised that a Radon sample is required to be taken from your property this will be done at the same time as a programed water sample. The cost of the radon sample is in addition to the programed water sample and the cost must be borne by the person responsible for that supply. The current cost will be stated in the intention to sample letter..

The sample is taken to find out how much (if any) radon is present in your water supply. It does not mean there is a problem with your supply, and you should continue to use your water as normal. Sample results will be forwarded to the person responsible for the water and any occupants of the property where the sample was taken.
A Radon fact sheet has been produced by the Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) and is available here - Radon Fact sheet

Companies who may advise you regarding Private Water Supplies

This list is neither approved nor complete. The Moray Council gives no assurance that a Company listed below is either qualified or competent to carry out any private water supply work:

Contacts List (PDF)

Contact Us

Environmental Health
Moray Council
Council Office
High Street, Elgin
IV30 1BX

0300 1234561

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