Advice for Well Owners
Advice for owners and users of single water supplies e.g. wells
The water supply in many rural areas is provided by way of a single well supply. In such cases where there is no "public" element to the supply they are known as unregulated supplies as the full rigours of the Drinking Water Regulations do not apply. However, a guidance document for owners and users of unregulated private water supplies with advice about what they can do to keep their supply safe is available below:
Further information for owners of private supplies that supply water as part of a commercial or public activity is available below.
Advice for owners of commercial premises or premises supplying water for public consumption from private supplies e.g. wells
HSE and Galway County Council
Urgent Information Note
Using Private Supplies of Water Can Have Major Risks for Health and for Business
There is evidence to suggest that many commercial premises are moving to use of ground water supplies (wells) without an appreciation of the risks to human health.
Well water, even from a deep well is not free from the risk of faecal contamination. The risk is greatest in areas (like much of County Galway ) where the rock is limestone, the soil cover is shallow and there are many sources of faecal contamination (septic tanks, agricultural animals). Many businesses may think that they have a safe well because they have test results that are clear of faecal contamination but this is a mistake. Well water that has a clear test at one time may be very heavily contaminated within hours if there is heavy rainfall.
Businesses may also feel that they are protected if they have on site water treatment facilities such as filtration, ultraviolet light or chlorination however all of the available systems can fail if they are not very carefully monitored and maintained, all of them have limitations and they can be overwhelmed if the water source becomes heavily contaminated for example after heavy rainfall.
There are serious legal obligations if you propose to provide drinking water to the public from a private source. You are required under law to ensure that the water is safe to drink and to verify that the treatment is working properly. In addition, you are required to obtain full planning permission before sinking a well for non-domestic purposes.
It is very important to note that, by setting up a private water supply, a business could potentially contaminate a public water supply if there is a connection between the two supplies. Water from private wells should not be connected to a public supply, as even with non-return valves there is a serious risk to the public supply.
- Well water cannot be considered reliably safe even if your well has had a number of clear laboratory tests.
- Treatment systems require maintenance by a suitably qualified person and may fail in which case you could be responsible for providing contaminated water to customers or contaminating a public water supply.
- Serious, in some cases life-threatening, infection may result from drinking contaminated water, from using contaminated water to make ice, from using contaminated water to wash or prepare food and from using contaminated water to brush teeth.
- If you provide a private water supply from your premises you are required under law to ensure that the water is safe to drink.
For queries in relation to the legal requirements when providing a new source for a private supply you should contact the Water Services Section of your local authority;
Galway County Council 091 509 505
Galway City Council 091 894 347
Should you need further information or advice on the use of and/or monitoring of a private water supply in your food business operation, you can contact the HSE, Environmental Health Department at 091 548352.