There are more than 100,000 private water supplies within the UK serving about a million people. The Private Water Regulations 1991 provide a framework for Local Authorities to monitor these supplies within their areas. Geographical distribution is variable with some Authorities responsible for large numbers of private sources. Sampling programmes are dependent on the abstraction volume or the number of consumers; some supplies may be monitored only annually or even less frequently. Seasonal variation of water quality may allow contaminated water to be consumed undetected by the Authority and may constitute a risk of illness to the consumer. This national survey of all the UK Local Authorities assesses the distribution, classification and quality of UK private water supplies. Incidence of sample non-compliance, complaints regarding water quality and suspected illness due to possible microbial contamination are addressed. The role of the Authorities in maintaining a safe potable water supply from private sources and the difficulties encountered in implementation of the Regulations are discussed.

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