The Consumer Futures Unit (CFU) initiated research to find out how accessible information is to consumers on their rights and responsibilities for private water and sewerage services. This Insight Report, which accompanies a technical report (see below for download link), summarises the research that was undertaken, sets out the findings that emerged and provides policy recommendations.
Over 22,000 registered private water supplies and 458,000 private sewerage services exist in Scotland, and consumers using these facilities are not served by Scottish Water, but manage services themselves. Most are situated in rural or remote areas and in many cases, private facilities do not meet the minimum acceptable standard. This can cause serious health risks for those drinking the water and can impact the environment.
It is essential that clear and accessible information is available to those that use private services, setting out what they need to do to maintain a safe and reliable drinking water supply, and properly manage their private sewerage facilities.
Our research found that information on the rights and responsibilities of those that use private water supplies is available online, but not always in enough detail or clearly signposted. Information is mostly provided on local authority, government agency, or third sector websites, and generally, information on private sewerage facilities is limited.
Based on our findings, more needs to be done to improve the quality of information available to consumers, and signposting needs to be improved to ensure those that need it can access it.
The CFU is working with stakeholders within the water industry to develop a comprehensive framework of support for those that use private water and sewerage services. As part of this work, we will support the development of an information hub between Citizens Advice Scotland and the Drinking Water Quality Regulator for Scotland, which will be accessible to other consumer information channels such as local authority websites.