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A review of the risks to drinking water quality at rural public buildings in England and Wales - WT1299

To comply with European regulations, Defra Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) requires water companies to include public buildings in random monitoring programme. DWI estimated that if 10% of monitoring included these buildings, it would take 18-20 years to monitor them all. However, it is now recognised that there is bias towards urban public buildings. In order to rectify this, this project studies rural public buildings (RPBs) in England and Wales in a number of stages:
„h Estimate the total number of RPBs serviced by public water supplies in England and Wales.
„h Determine the number and proportion of RPBs that have been included in water companies¡¦ random monitoring programmes.
„h Study these monitoring data and other published literature to identify hazards in the drinking water that are specific to RPBs.
„h Assess the level of risk posed by these hazards in terms of human health and possible rejection of the water due to taste, odour or appearance.
„h Collate the guidance currently available to controllers of RPB water supplies and assess quality and robustness, and identify any inconsistencies.
„h Make suggestions on the production and dissemination of standard guidance to controllers to include water suppliers and regulators of private supplies.
The completion of this project would yield important information about RPBs and their water supplies including how often they are monitored, any specific problems in terms of health or aesthetic properties and any guidance produced. This is important not only to Defra DWI but also to local regulators, water companies, rural community-based organisations and interested general public.
The objectives are to:

1. Estimate the number of rural public buildings in England and Wales served by public water supplies.
2. Determine the numbers and proportion of rural public buildings that have been monitored, based on data held by DWI.
3. Identify specific types of hazards that rural public buildings present to consumers based on compliance data held by DWI and a wider review of the literature.
4. Determine the level of water quality risk (severity vs likelihood) that these hazards present, given the findings of 1 - 3 above. Risk shall be a measure of its potential to pose risk to human health and/or rejection of the water by way of its taste odour or appearance.
5. Establish (a) what guidance is currently available to persons in control of the water supply arrangements at rural public buildings, and/or the premises on which they are sited. (b) Determine any inconsistencies with any available guidance currently made available (c) determine its accuracy and robustness in terms of protecting the community.
6. Suggest how standard guidance to relevant people served by and/or in control of rural public buildings could best be produced and disseminated. This should be through the collaboration between water suppliers and the regulators of private supplies (local authorities).

Project Documents
• FRP - Final Report : DWI70-2-307   (1099k)
• EXE - Executive Summary : DWI70-2-307exsum   (39k)
Time-Scale and Cost
From: 2015

To: 2016

Cost: £62,080
Contractor / Funded Organisations
WRc plc
Drinking Water              
Water Quality              
Water Supply              
Fields of Study
Water Quality