Updates to the public and private drinking water regulations 2017

Closed 24 Oct 2017

Opened 12 Sep 2017

Results updated 2 Jul 2018

We have published the summary of responses and the governments response to the consultation on drinking water regulations. Thanks for the 221 responses received. The amended regulations are now being finalised and will be laid in Parliament in June.



We are seeking views on proposed amendments to the Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations 2016 (‘public regulations’) and the Private Water Supplies (England) Regulations 2016 (‘private regulations’); known jointly as the drinking water regulations. The changes will only apply to England.

The current regulations ('the 2016 Regulations') transpose the requirements of Council Directive 1998/83/EC on the quality of water intended for human consumption (known as the ‘Drinking Water Directive’) and the requirements of Council Directive 2013/51/Euratom for the protection of the health of the general public with regard to radioactive substances in water intended for human consumption. 

This consultation concerns Commission Directive (EU) 2015/1787 which amended Annexes II and III of the Drinking Water Directive. The changes will bring the regulations in line with the Drinking Water Directive which was updated to reflect World Health Organisation principles for the risk based sampling and analysis of drinking water supply. Whilst updating the regulations we are taking the opportunity to make other changes to add clarity and improve certain aspects of the regulations.  

The main points to note are:

  • Application of new risk based sampling and analysis of drinking water laid down in Commission Directive (EU) 2015/1787;
  • New table for analytical performance characteristics and clarification on the standards to be met;
  • Changes to the methods of analysis to be used for certain parameters;
  • Requirement for the collection, transportation and analysis of samples to be carried out in accordance with EN ISO/IEC 17024 or EN ISO/IEC 17025 or another internationally recognised standard;
  • Clarification on the methodology required where samples are taken for lead, copper or nickel analysis;
  • Changes in respect of the timing of samples from tankers distributing a short term supply and adding to the records that retail licensees need to prepare and maintain;
  • Changes to the level of fees local authorities can charge for all activities relating to carrying out their duties with respect to private water supplies;
  • Changes to clarify the criteria for satisfying a notice served; and
  • Changes to provide local authorities with the powers to perform corrective work.

This is a joint consultation consisting of separate documents for each of the regulations that share a common policy approach and legal base. 

Please note: Private water supplies serving single (domestic) dwellings, that are not shared or rented out/tenanted and have not asked their Local Authority to monitor their supplies, are exempt from routine sampling or monitoring. Therefore, the regulations and the proposed amendments to them will have no impact (unless, on the very rare occasion, a Local Authority believes the supplies are at a very high risk of contamination and will sample/monitor to protect human health).

To give us your views click on the 'Online Survey' link below.

Alternatively you can send your comments and any enquiries by:

Email: drinkingwaterquality@defra.gsi.gov.uk; or

Post: Drinking Water Quality, Area 3D, Nobel House, 17 Smith Square, SW1P 3JR

This consultation will be of interest to those concerned with public and/or private supplies of drinking water.

What happens next

The responses to these questions will assist in the final drafting of the regulations in respect of England, and will assist in determining the accuracy of assumptions that have been made during the preparation of an impact assessment document.

A summary of responses to this consultation will be published on the Government website at: www.gov.uk/defra. The summary will include a list of organisations that responded but not personal names, addresses or other contact details.


  • Water/water Industry sector
  • Local Authorities


  • Water quality