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  • by Trevor Loveday

Scots' private water supplies quality falls to "present a risk to health"

Scotland’s Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) has found that a significant number of private water supplies do not meet the required drinking water standards and “almost certainly represent a risk to health.”

The DWQR reported that private water supply quality had deteriorated since 2018 after it had “not improved in recent years.”

According to the DWQR, a 2019 study of more than 48,000 private water supplies supplying more than 50 people or a commercial activity found that 14.5% had a sample that contained E.coli, which indicates faecal contamination and potentially causes serious illness. Close to 90% of tests, however, met the required standard said the regulator. E.Coli contamination was found in 11% of samples in 2018 the DWQR reported.

It said some 3.3% of the Scottish population receive their water from private water supplies which range from serving a single house to significant numbers of houses as well as hotels, tourist accommodation and other businesses. Many of the very small types of supplies, the DWQR said, have little or no treatment.

The regulator estimated that some 200,000 people rely on a private supply for their drinking water, with “many thousands more” using them occasionally, typically in holiday accommodation.


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