Utilities and waste collection
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in the Pink Book of Legislation, we regret that we cannot be responsible for any errors. This guide is not intended to be a definitive statement of the law in England. If you require precise or detailed information on the legislation mentioned in this guide, or on the legal implications for you in particular, you should consult a professional legal adviser.
- If the water supplies for your accommodation come from a private supply, the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2016 apply to you.
- Local authorities must take and analyse samples of private water supplies from groundwater sources.
- If you make a specific charge to your customers for gas or electricity, the most you can charge is limited by the 'maximum resale price' rule.
- The maximum resale price is the same price that you have paid to your own supplier.
- If you pay business rates, you need to pay for a commercial waste collection service unless you are exempt under the Controlled Waste Regulations 2012.
Private water supplies
Private water supplies include water:
- from groundwater sources
- drawn from privately owned boreholes or wells
- take from surface water, such as springs and streams.
The Private Water Supplies Regulations (England) 2016 has recently consolidated and repealed the Private Water Supplies Regulations (England) 2009. Together with the Water Industry Act 1991, apply to all private water supplies intended for human consumption, whether this is for drinking, washing or food production. The aim of the regulations is to ensure that all private water sources are safe and free from contaminants.
Do these regulations affect me?
Yes: if any part of the water supply for your accommodation business comes from a private supply.
Private water supply tests
The 2016 regulations are very similar to the previous regulations, in that they require local authorities to record the number of private supplies in its area, and for each supply must record:
- the name of the supply, together with a unique identifier
- the type of source
- the geographical location, using a grid reference
- an estimate of the number of people supplied
- an estimate of the average daily volume of water supplied in cubic metres
- the type of premises supplied
- detail of any treatment process, together with its location
- the name of the Health Protection Agency in whose area the supply is located.
After the initial assessment, the regulations require local authorities to monitor the supply on an ongoing basis. The regularity of the sampling will vary depending upon the volume of water used, from once a year for supplies of less than 10 cubic metres per day to 34 times a year for supplies of up to 10,000 cubic metres per day.
In addition, the local authority must also undertake a thorough risk assessment of each supply at least once every five years.
In addition to the previous requirements, the Private Water Supplies Regulations (England) 2016 require local authorities to test private water supplies for radioactive substances (this usually means the level of naturally occurring Radon in the water) and undertake a risk assessment of new supplies, and supplies that have been out of use for more than 12 months, as soon as is reasonably practicable. The risk assessments of these suppliers will then be subject to review every five years as per the 2009 regulations.
Cost of samples
The local authority will contact the person responsible for the supply (this may be the landowner, a person using the water, or a person representing a group of water users) about sampling. The regulations set out the maximum amounts that a local authority can charge for undertaking risk assessments, taking and analysing samples and providing authorisations to use a private water supply.
The bill will be sent to the person responsible. If an authority decides to carry out tests over and above those required by the regulations, it has to bear the costs of these tests itself.
If test results show that the water is unwholesome, because it fails to meet the standards or other requirements, the local authority can insist the water supply is improved. If any private supply of water intended for human consumption constitutes a potential danger to human health, a local authority acting under these regulations will serve a notice to the responsible person. It is an offence to breach this notice. However, the regulations establish an appeal process if you wish to challenge a notice.