At the end of October last year, new regulations, namely the Water Intended for Human Consumption (Private Supplies) (Scotland) Regulations 2017 (hereinafter referred to as the '2017 Regulations'), were brought into force. The purpose of these 2017 Regulations was to control the quality of the water supplied to private water supplies in Scotland in accordance with the provisions of European Council Directive 98/83/EC (which deals with the quality of water intended for human consumption). These regulations partly replaced the existing Private Water Supplies (Scotland) Regulations 2006.
The main changes to note in terms of the 2017 Regulations are as follows:
1. Domestic Rented Properties
Previously domestic rented properties were exempt from such regulations but now they are to be included as they are caught under the umbrella of a supply which forms 'part of a commercial or public activity'.
It is important to note however, that in the case of a domestic rented property, it is only the supply which is monitored and tested under the 2017 Regulations, not each individual property - albeit such properties shall require a point of compliance (i.e. a tap used for the human consumption of water).
2. Risk Assessments
Under Part 3 of the 2017 Regulations, it is now a requirement for the relevant local authority to carry out a risk assessment in respect of water 'introduced into, and supplied through and from' all private water supply systems within their designated area in order to ascertain whether the water is considered to be safe enough so as not to pose a risk to human health. It is stipulated that all such risk assessments must be carried out prior to 1 January 2022 and thereafter, shall be re-assessed on a cycle of every five years from the date of the initial examination.
In the event that a local authority has carried out a risk assessment for a private water supply system and deems it to fall below the water quality standards required for the purposes of human health and safety, the local authority can take action under Schedule 6 of the 2017 Regulations by serving a remediation notice on the 'relevant person' (as more particularly defined in Regulation 3, Part 1 of the 2017 Regulations).
For the avoidance of doubt, the remediation notice shall state the following:
- The supply of water to which it relates;
- The underlying reasons for local authority issuing such a notice;
- The steps required (including timescales) by the relevant person in order to:
a. Protect human health; and
b. Restore or protect the quality of the water supplied, or to be supplied, so that it meets (and continues to meet) the water quality standards
- The date on which the notice is to take effect..."
The date on which the notice is to take effect..."
Similar steps can be taken by a local authority where they have good reason to believe that a person has not only failed to comply with a requirement of the 2017 Regulations but has also not done anything to rectify the situation. In such instances, an enforcement notice shall be served on the individual concerned requiring them to take appropriate action to resolve the matter.
Any person who has been served either a remediation notice or an enforcement notice, and wishes to object to it, has a right to appeal to the sheriff, provided that they do it within 14 days of the date of service. It shall be at the sheriff's discretion to consider what approach they think fit and any decision by them shall be final.
4.Duty of care
Under Part 4 of the 2017 Regulations, any person connected to a supply of water has a duty of care to the extent that they 'must not take any action which has the effect of allowing any deterioration of the quality of the water (in so far as that is relevant for the protection of human health)'.