Frequently Asked Questions
Listed below are some of the most frequently asked questions relating to private water supplies.
Most households in the UK are supplied by water from a public water utility company such as United Utilities, Yorkshire Water etc.. A private water supply is a supply NOT provided by one of these companies.
Water in a private water supply comes from a borehole, spring, well, stream or lake. Most water that comes from a source other than a borehole is properly called a "surface derived" source. For example, sometimes what appears to be a spring is really the outlet for field drains. In other cases shallow wells are really getting water from just below the soil surface and so can easily be contaminated.
Some springs will have their source deep under ground but they will be vulnerable to the ingress of surface water and therefore they would also be classified as a surface derived source. In the UK, springs that are not vulnerable to the ingress of surface water are very rare.
All surface derived sources (including most springs) will normally require some form of water treatment before they would be suitable for use in the home or as part of a production process.
Borehole water is less vulnerable to the ingress of “fresh” surface water, reducing the risk of contamination. However, approximately 50% of all boreholes fail to meet microbiological standards at some point through the year. In addition, many boreholes contain naturally occurring contaminants such as iron, manganese or “hardness” that will stain clothes, fixtures, fittings and sanitary ware or will make the water unpleasant to drink.
The risk of a borehole containing pathogens such as E.coli, Coliforms, Cryptosporidium and Giardia at some time during the year is moderate to high. It is therefore advisable to disinfect a borehole supply. The disinfection system of choice for most owners of private water supplies in the UK is UltraViolet disinfection.
There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that people who regularly drink contaminated water build up an immunity to harmful bacteria. Even if we did build up an immunity to one particular type of contaminant, for example E.coli, that would not necessarily mean we would be immune to the harmful effects of drinking water containing other types of contaminant, for example cryptosporidium. Even if you believe you have built up an immunity to some of the bacteria in the water, other people visiting your property may be at risk, especially the young, the aged or people who do not enjoy good health.
When people complain about the taste of “town water” they are normally referring to the taste imparted by chlorine (the same chemical used to treat swimming pools) used by the water companies. Chlorine is very rarely used to treat spring or borehole water, the system of choice being UV Disinfection. UV gets rid of all harmful bacteria without altering the taste of the water or removing any of its healthy minerals.
Using bottled water as the main drinking supply to the house can be very costly. (in some instances, litre per litre, branded bottled water can be as expensive as petrol). Unlike drinking spring water, buying bottled water is not very environmentally friendly. On the whole, filtered spring water will taste better than bottled water. In part this is due to spring water being well aerated (contains elevated levels of oxygen) and a low pH adds a natural sweetness to water.
E.coli and Coliforms are “Indicators” which means they provide evidence that harmful contaminants are getting into the water. E.coli (0157) can, and does seriously harm people, however other viruses are just as lethal e.g. Cryptosporidium. A failed water test is a clear indicator that you need to do something about your drinking water and that there is a risk to public health - that is why the Environmental Health Department will have sent you a letter, suggesting you take steps to make improvements.
Diarrhea, stomach cramp, high temperature, nausea, headaches and drowsiness are some of the symptoms that can develop after drinking contaminated water. The worst cases can result in kidney failure. The most recent research into private water supplies (Risebro 2012) confirms that over 50% of private water supplies pose a significant health risk. The research identified an incidence of diarrhoea 5 times higher than normal. Children under 10 years old and visitors are most at risk of becoming ill from drinking water from a private water supply. The findings apply equally to springs and boreholes.
In the letter that some Councils send to households that have failed their test, the EHO's (Environmental Health Officers) include the following paragraph “Enforcement action may be taken where the (Private Water Supply) Regulations are breached. We also alert prospective purchasers during searches prior to buying property to any danger or lack of serviced treatment equipment”. So yes, the price of your property will be affected if you don’t do something about your water.
UV Disinfection is the approved method for getting rid of harmful bacteria from borehole, stream or spring water. UV will not alter the taste of your water or remove any of its healthy minerals.
Water that comes from a spring is likely to have passed over organic matter that makes it acidic. This type of water will attack copper pipe, causing leaks and blue staining of fixtures and fittings. The leached copper will also stain light coloured hair. pH Correction adjusts the pH of your water to a level where it is no longer a problem.
See the point above relating to Acidic water.
This type of problem normally occurs on borehole supplies and is a clear indicator that the water contains high levels of iron or manganese. The water entering the house may look perfectly clear, however, once air is introduced into the water e.g. through agitation in a washing machine or dishwasher, the iron precipitates and leaves behind an orange or brown stain. Iron can be particularly problematic on farms where the sanitization fluids used to clean equipment cause the iron to precipitate, leaving unsightly stains on what is otherwise sterile equipment.
Having installed over 2,000 systems in 10 years, we have discovered that no two supplies are the same. This means that the methods of treating a supply can vary widely dependent on the water quality and the amount of water used. However, as a basic guideline a typical family home fed by a spring might need a pH corrector, UV and pre-filter. An approximate price for this equipment would be £800 plus installation and VAT.
Borehole water containing high levels of iron and manganese might need a more sophisticated backwashing system. An approximate price for an iron reduction filter would be £1,200 plus installation and VAT.
The cost of maintenance is dependent on the type of equipment installed. However, as a rough guideline, the cost of maintaining a pH corrector, UV and filter will be £100 a year (assuming the customer carries out the work). The cost of maintaining a typical borehole filter system (iron reduction, UV and pre-filter) will cost around £225.00 a year.
Yes. We regularly receive calls from customers who would like us to service Shakesby Iron removal plant and we have built up a large database of customers with these units. When replacing parts we use genuine Shakesby parts and Shakesby iron removal media (SIRM). We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive.
Yes. We are very familiar with the type of equipment installed by Marshall Pumps / Cleanstream. We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive.
Yes. Many former customers of Dales Water have asked us to take over the servicing of equipment provided by them. In addition to equipment servicing, we also maintain boreholes and can lift pumps. We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive. We DO NOT charge for mileage.
Yes. We are very familiar with the type of equipment supplied by Waterline. We fully guarantee our work and our rates are highly competitive. We DO NOT charge for mileage.
When asked why should we switch to Springhill, we simply say “Our prices tend to be lower, we do a better job than most of our competitors and we are quick to respond if a problem occurs”.
We love running our own company and we continue to build the business in the old fashioned way: by exchanging goods and services, effectively and at a profit to the mutual and lasting satisfaction of both buyer and seller.