Private Water Supplies: Are they inhibiting growth and flexibility of the rural economy, or impacting population distribution?

Project Details


Private water supplies (PWS) are those supplies that are not provided by Scottish Water, and instead are the responsibility of their owners and users. Local authorities under the supervision of the Drinking Water Quality Regulator regulate the quality of the water served by these supplies. Private water supplies are found mainly in rural communities and serve approximately 3.5% of the total population in Scotland (around 20,000 supplies). This is not evenly distributed however, with some areas having a much greater proportion of the population relying on private supplies.
Private supplies are subject to variable quality. In some cases being of particularly high water quality, but in others failing to meet drinking water standards due largely to poor quality supply, poor or inadequate treatment or substandard construction and maintenance. Quantity can also be problematic, with some supplies reducing in flow or drying up completely particularly during the summer months. A key policy priority for Scottish Government is how to make these supplies sustainable and of good quality and quantity.

Previous CREW research aimed to identify how to better engage with communities around their PWS and in doing so highlighted a number of research gaps. These centred on the operational costs of a private supply for the PWS owner, and its impact on the wider local economy. This research is required to investigate these in further detail.

The overall objective is to investigate the potential and actual impacts of PWS on individuals, PWS owners, communities, individual businesses (particularly around tourism, agriculture and small business start-ups), the rural economy, and consequently population distribution.
Effective start/end date1/11/1731/07/18


  • Centre of Expertise for Waters: £56,715.00


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