The Drinking Water Quality Regulator (DWQR) for Scotland’s latest annual report for public and private water supplieshave been published.

The annual report for public water supplies shows that Scottish Water’s compliance with the stringent standards for drinking water remains high at 99.92%. However, the annual report for private water supplies show a significant number do not meet the required drinking water standards. 

The Water Industry (Scotland) Act 2002 requires DWQR to publish an annual report describing the Regulator’s activities during the preceding year. This report summarises data on water quality in public and private supplies across Scotland, as well as covering water quality events and incidents, consumer contacts to Scottish Water and DWQR activities throughout the year

The public water supplies report, covering Drinking Water Quality in Scotland during 2019, states that a total of 310,605 regulatory tests were carried out on Scotland’s drinking water last year.

Scottish Water take and analyse samples of drinking water from treatment works, storage points and customers taps throughout the year. Of those taken from samples at consumers’ taps, 99.92% met the required standards, a slight improvement on last year and consistent with previous years.

For regulated private water supplies a total of 48,384 tests were taken in 2019, 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 on 2018 for many types of test. In 2018, 11% of samples contained E.coli.

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. 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 (DWQR), a significant number do not meet the required drinking water standards and almost certainly represent a risk to health.