Amount of E.coli in Scottish private water supply samples raise concerns

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Amount of E.coli in private water supply samples are causing concern, as Scotland’s Drinking Water Quality Regulator unveils their data for 2019.

In 2019, a total of 48,384 tests were taken from regulated private water supplies, which are those supplying more than 50 people or a commercial activity.

89.8 per cent of tests met the required standard, but 14.5% of these supplies had a sample that contained E.coli, which indicates faecal contamination and potentially causes serious illness.

Compliance figures have not improved in recent years, and the 2019 results actually represent a deterioration for many types of test, as 11% of samples contained E.coli in 2018.

Private water supplies are those owned and managed by individuals rather than Scottish Water and around 3.3 per cent of the Scottish population receive their water from them.

It is estimated that around 200,000 people rely on a private water supply for their drinking water, with many thousands more using them occasionally, typically in holiday accommodation.

The supplies range from those serving a single house to much larger numbers of houses as well as hotels, tourist accommodation and other businesses.

Many of the very small types of supplies have little or no treatment and where water from these supplies does not meet the standards, there may be a risk to the health of those drinking from them.

According to the latest report from Scotland’s Drinking Water Quality Regulator, ‘a significant number’ do not meet the required drinking water standards and almost certainly represent a risk to health.

Drinking Water Quality Regulator Sue Petch commented on the findings: “It is concerning that the quality of private water supplies is not improving and I am especially worried about those supplies that tested positive for E. coli

“These supplies represent a risk to the residents, visitors and customers who consume them.

“It is vital that these supplies are improved so that people using them have a safe and reliable supply of drinking water.

“Local authorities can offer advice and support as well as enabling access to a Scottish Government grant to make improvements.”

The full report is available here