General Info Problems
Most households in the UK are supplied by water from a public water utility company such as United Utilities, Yorkshire Water etc.. A private water supply is a supply NOT provided by one of these companies.
Water in a private water supply comes from a borehole, spring, well, stream or lake. Most water that comes from a source other than a borehole is properly called a “surface derived” source. For example, sometimes what appears to be a spring is really the outlet for field drains. In other cases shallow wells are really getting water from just below the soil surface and so can easily be contaminated.
Some springs will have their source deep under ground but they will be vulnerable to the ingress of surface water and therefore they would also be classified as a surface derived source. In the UK, springs that are not vulnerable to the ingress of surface water are very rare.
All surface derived sources (including most springs) will normally require some form of water treatment before they would be suitable for use in the home or as part of a production process.
Borehole water is less vulnerable to the ingress of “fresh” surface water, reducing the risk of contamination. However, approximately 50% of all boreholes fail to meet microbiological standards at some point through the year. In addition, many boreholes contain naturally occurring contaminants such as iron, manganese or “hardness” that will stain clothes, fixtures, fittings and sanitary ware or will make the water unpleasant to drink.
The risk of a borehole containing pathogens such as E.coli, Coliforms, Cryptosporidium and Giardia at some time during the year is moderate to high. It is therefore advisable to disinfect a borehole supply. The disinfection system of choice for most owners of private water supplies in the UK is Ultra Violet disinfection.
Water Reports: Buying or Selling a property on a private water supply in England.
Increasingly we are seeing lenders looking for a report for reassurances regarding private water supplies before they will release funds. In my experience they often ask for the following:
– recently taken water sample test results that include a microbiological and basic mineral test
– written confirmation that the equipment installed at the property is properly sized and maintained
– an expert report on the sustainability of the supply. This would require a site inspection.
– a written report that identifies the suitable alternative water sources should the supply fail. This would require desk research into the local geology and a search to see if there are any viable alternatives in your area.
To provide this information, we would first need to visit the site and take water samples. Assuming the test results indicate a Pass on all the key parameters we would then need to write a report.
If the sample fails then we would need to identify the relevant remedial action required and once the work is carried out, re-test and update the report.
As a Chartered Water and Environmental Manager, I find that my report is credible and sufficient for the lender’s needs. Our standard charge for carrying out the above is £495 including VAT.
There are a number of other options available to buyers/sellers should they not want us to provide the full report. In the first instance, they might want to contact the Environmental Health Department and see if they have test results that show the water has met the required standards in the past. They then could send this to the lender. They could also ask the Environmental Health to comment on the supply and provide a report. However, in my experience we find that that the EHO is unlikely to provide such a report as they realise they would be taken on a legal responsibility along with liability should the information be inaccurate.
For £95 including VAT we could test your water, and simply provide the results in the form of a Water Quality Report. Assuming the sample passes, this can be sent to the lender. However, this option would not include any analysis of the results or comments relating to the regulations or the reliability of the source.
For more information relating to Water Reports for Private Water Supplies, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or ring us on 01422 833121.
Geoff Nemec MSc CWEM CEnv
Managing Director of Springhill Water.
Based on our experience, typically, a basic 60 metre borehole including the installation of a borehole pump, control system and the connection of pipe work costs around £10,000- £15,000 dependent on local conditions. The annual running cost of a borehole is around £50-£600 dependent on water usage.
The quotation will include costs relating to mobilisation of the rig, labour, ancillary equipment and support vehicles. All boreholes will include the necessary liners, grouting and casings.
Following the drilling of the hole, a water test specialist will visit site and carry out a basic water test. This is free of charge. The results of the test will dictate what filtration, if any, is needed. In some cases, the results from the basic test will not provide all of the necessary information, in which case a more detailed test will be required.
There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that people who regularly drink contaminated water build up an immunity to harmful bacteria. Even if we did build up an immunity to one particular type of contaminant, for example E.coli, that would not necessarily mean we would be immune to the harmful effects of drinking water containing other types of contaminant, for example cryptosporidium. Even if you believe you have built up an immunity to some of the bacteria in the water, other people visiting your property may be at risk, especially the young, the aged or people who do not enjoy good health.
When people complain about the taste of “town water” they are normally referring to the taste imparted by chlorine (the same chemical used to treat swimming pools) used by the water companies. Chlorine is very rarely used to treat spring or borehole water, the system of choice being UV Disinfection. UV gets rid of all harmful bacteria without altering the taste of the water or removing any of its healthy minerals.
Using bottled water as the main drinking supply to the house can be very costly. (in some instances, litre per litre, branded bottled water can be as expensive as petrol). Unlike drinking spring water, buying bottled water is not very environmentally friendly. On the whole, filtered spring water will taste better than bottled water. In part this is due to spring water being well aerated (contains elevated levels of oxygen) and a low pH adds a natural sweetness to water.
E.coli and Coliforms are “Indicators” which means they provide evidence that harmful contaminants are getting into the water. E.coli (0157) can, and does seriously harm people, however other viruses are just as lethal e.g. Cryptosporidium. A failed water test is a clear indicator that you need to do something about your drinking water and that there is a risk to public health – that is why the Environmental Health Department will have sent you a letter, suggesting you take steps to make improvements.
New Private Water Supply Regulations – pdf »
– what do they mean for owners and consumers?
I understand this concern; Why would a company like ours offer a free of charge service? It sounds too good to be true.
The truth is, we do offer this service and there is no catch. We do not work for any other agency and we do not pass on any of your information to anyone else.
Before we can make any recommendations, we like to know the full picture. The easiest way to do this is for us to get in the car and visit site. Of course, being a business, we hope that you may spend money with us at some stage but I can assure you our first approach is as engineers. We want to understand the problem and identify the best solution for you. If its work that we can do, we would send you a quotation and then leave it with you to decide what you wanted to do.
Diarrhoea, stomach cramp, high temperature, nausea, headaches and drowsiness are some of the symptoms that can develop after drinking contaminated water. The worst cases can result in kidney failure. The most recent research into private water supplies (Risebro 2012) confirms that over 50% of private water supplies pose a significant health risk. The research identified an incidence of diarrhoea 5 times higher than normal. Children under 10 years old and visitors are most at risk of becoming ill from drinking water from a private water supply. The findings apply equally to springs and boreholes.
UV Disinfection is the approved method for getting rid of harmful bacteria from borehole, stream or spring water. UV will not alter the taste of your water or remove any of its healthy minerals.
Increasingly, Environmental Health Officers are notifying commercial customers that their UV systems need a fail to safe facility. This means that should the UV fail for any reason, for example a power outage, the UV system will cut off the flow of water and sound an alarm (audio and/or visual). In some cases, the EHO’s also recommend that telemetry is added to the system if equipment is installed in a remote area. The telemetry module on the UV sends a warning message to one or more mobile phones should a fault occur.
Water that comes from a spring is likely to have passed over organic matter that makes it acidic. This type of water will attack copper pipe, causing leaks and blue staining of fixtures and fittings. The leached copper will also stain light coloured hair. pH Correction adjusts the pH of your water to a level where it is no longer a problem.
See the point above relating to Acidic water.
This type of problem normally occurs on borehole supplies and is a clear indicator that the water contains high levels of iron or manganese. The water entering the house may look perfectly clear, however, once air is introduced into the water e.g. through agitation in a washing machine or dishwasher, the iron precipitates and leaves behind an orange or brown stain. Iron can be particularly problematic on farms where the sanitization fluids used to clean equipment cause the iron to precipitate, leaving unsightly stains on what is otherwise sterile equipment.
Costs & Solutions
Having installed over 7,000 systems in 15 years, we have discovered that no two supplies are the same. This means that the methods of treating a supply can vary widely dependent on the water quality and the amount of water used. However, as a basic guideline a typical family home fed by a spring might need a pH corrector, UV and pre-filter. An approximate price for this equipment would be £800 plus installation and VAT.
Borehole water containing high levels of iron and manganese might need a more sophisticated backwashing system. An approximate price for an iron reduction filter would be £1,200 plus installation and VAT.
In the letter that some Councils send to households that have failed their test, the EHO’s (Environmental Health Officers) include the following paragraph “Enforcement action may be taken where the (Private Water Supply) Regulations are breached. We also alert prospective purchasers during searches prior to buying property to any danger or lack of serviced treatment equipment”. So yes, the price of your property will be affected if you don’t do something about your water.
Yes. We regularly receive calls from customers who would like us to service Shakesby Iron removal plant and we have built up a large database of customers with these units. When replacing parts we use genuine Shakesby parts and Shakesby iron removal media (SIRM). We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive.
Yes. We service equipment provided by all other private water supply companies, including Springbore and J.N. Environmental (both businesses being new to the market). We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive.
Yes. We are very familiar with the type of equipment installed by Marshall Pumps / Cleanstream. We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive.
Yes. Many former customers of Dales Water have asked us to take over the servicing of equipment provided by them. In addition to equipment servicing, we also maintain boreholes and can lift pumps. We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive. We DO NOT charge for mileage.
Yes. We are very familiar with the type of equipment supplied by Waterline. We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive. We DO NOT charge for mileage.
Yes. Although we rarely encounter equipment installed by Springbore we are familiar with the range of products this company promote. Springhill are a well established business with 8 full time engineers and a team of support staff. We provide a 24 hour response service throughout the North of England.
When asked why should we switch to Springhill, we simply say “Our prices tend to be lower, we do a better job than most of our competitors and we are quick to respond if a problem occurs”.
We love running our own company and we continue to build the business in the old fashioned way: by exchanging goods and services, effectively and at a profit to the mutual and lasting satisfaction of both buyer and seller.