Private Water Supplies

Water Scarcity : Advice for Private Water Supply Owners/Users  

It is generally taken for granted that the population of the Outer Hebrides has ready access to clean and reliable sources of water.  However there are a minority of supplies that do not come from a statutory water supplier but instead from a private source.  These supplies come from springs, wells, burns or lochs and unlike public 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 fertilizer 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.

The Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies)(Scotland) Regulations 2017 (Opens in a new window or downloads a file) came into force on 27 October 2017.

The Scottish Government’s Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) has created a PWS Information Hub which is for owners and users of private water supplies.  It can be accessed at:

Private Water Supplies Information Hub (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)

The hub contains useful information on the following:

  • How to apply for a Private Water Supply Grant
  • Information on what you need to do if you’re buying or selling a property with a PWS
  • Connecting to the mains supply
  • Developing a new PWS
  • How to maintain your PWS
  • How to make sure your PWS is safe to drink
  • Your rights and responsibilities if you use a PWS
  • PWS – what to do in an emergency
  • Risk assessing your PWS
  • How to get your PWS tested
  • How to treat your PWS

Private Water Supply Registration

All private water supplies must be registered with the Comhairle.  

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 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.  If you wish to register your property as one served by a private supply, or update existing information, please contact

Drinking Water Quality Regulator Map of Private Water Supplies

Drinking Water Quality Regulator Map of Private Water Supplies (Opens in a new window or downloads a file)