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Consultation: Private Water Supplies - Sampling Fees

Following representation from a number of people regarding the way in which we charge for sampling private water supplies in the Craven district in line with the Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009, a decision was made to carry out a consultation.

The aim of this consultation was to adopt a consistent and transparent approach when apportioning charges for private water sampling taken from a shared supply that serves not only commercial or public premises but also a single or a number of domestic dwellings. It should be noted that the consultation has no relevance to the charging fees themselves.

The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 impose a duty upon local authorities to monitor all private water supplies (other than those which serve a single domestic property) by way of sampling.

Whilst the regulations stipulate that all domestic only private water supplies must be sampled at least every 5 years, all commercial private water supplies must be sampled more frequently, in most cases at least annually.

Commercial supplies include all supplies where a monetary exchange takes place for services and/or where people are employed, i.e. public houses, hotels, bed and breakfast establishments, rented properties, etc.

Where the supply is shared by commercial/public premises and a single or a number of private dwellings sampling frequency of that supply are determined by the cubic meters capacity of that supply per day. In most cases this will be once per year (less or equal to 10 cubic meters of water per day)

When the local authority undertakes the water sampling it must ensure that sampling is carried out by a competent person using suitable equipment. It must also ensure that the sample is kept at such a temperature and in such conditions to ensure there is no material change to the sample before analysis. The sample must then be analysed by a competent person at an approved laboratory.

Unfortunately the cost of this service is chargeable. The maximum cost of sampling is capped in accordance with the regulations. Currently the Council charges significantly below the maximum allowed under the regulations.

Schedule 5 [Fees] of The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 sets out the fees payable and the liabilities as to cost of any person requesting anything under these regulations. With regard to the liabilities for payment paragraph 2 of the said Schedule states -

"Where more than one person is liable, in determining who is required to make payment the local authority —

(a) may apportion the charge between them; and

(b) must have regard to any agreement or other document produced to the local authority relating to the terms on which water is supplied."

Following significant representations from those affected the Council decided to consult on the apportionment of these charges.

The consultation proposed two options:

Option 1: Apportion the charge equally among all premises who derive benefit from the supply.

Option 2: Apportion the charge so that the majority is weighted towards the commercial premises on the supply, .i.e. where a sample is taken each year (4 years are billed to the commercial premises, 1 year is apportioned equally).

The consultation closed at midday on 30th November 2015. The council then considered all information received to make a decision on whether the existing charging regime should remain the same or whether it should be altered.

Results

The results have shown a larger proportion of people wish for charges to be apportioned with the majority weighted towards the commercial premises on the supply.

Craven District Council will therefore be apportioning charges so that the majority is weighted towards the commercial premises on the supply. 

Where a sample is taken each year over a 5 year period, 100% of the sampling costs will be passed to the commercial premises for 4 years.  In the 5th year the sampling costs will be apportioned equally between all who derive benefit from the supply.

Craven District Council believe this is the fairest way of apportioning the charges. The benefits derived by the commercial element are generally greater and the commercial element can also usually recover costs incurred via business costs.

The above took effect from 1st January 2016. In line with the risk assessments, 1st January 2016 is year 2.

Where no commercial element exists, sampling charges will be made equally between all parties deriving benefit from the supply unless a written agreement exists between all parties.