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TOBIN Consulting Engineers were commissioned in early 2015 by South Lakeland District Council to carry out Risk Assessments on 363 Private Water Supplies located in Cumbria

Approximately 1 million people in the UK are served by private water supplies. The protection of these supplies is of the utmost importance, as over one third of water related disease outbreaks (such as E.coli) are associated with such private supplies. Due to the nature of waterborne illnesses, the infirm, the elderly and the very young are the most at risk. For example, children under 10 years of age are four times more likely to suffer diarrhoea if their home is served by a private supply.

The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 apply to all private water supplies in England and Wales used for human consumption in England and Wales, and as part of these regulations it is a requirement that risk assessments are carried out on private supplies every 5 years. TOBIN Consulting Engineers were commissioned in early 2015 by South Lakeland District Council to carry out Risk Assessments on 363 Private Water Supplies located in Cumbria. With our many years of experience in rural water supplies, TOBIN were ideally placed to advise South Lakeland District Council and the private supply owners in a project which contributes to the protection of public health, particularly of those most vulnerable.

The risk assessment process required that TOBIN identify all of the potential physical, chemical and management risks to a water supply, encompassing all points on the supply from source to the consumer’s tap. Once the risks are identified, measures can be put in place to either remove or mitigate these risks.

The old proverb “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime” adequately sums up one of the most important benefits of this project to the general public. TOBIN were given the chance to disseminate practical engineering knowledge and advice to the managers of private supplies on how best to keep their water supplies safe. Often, the simplest measures can considerably improve the quality of the water in a supply. For example the erection of a stock proof fence around the cover of a below ground storage tank can significantly reduce the risk of faecal matter entering the supply.

Through our participation in this project TOBIN has made a valuable contribution to the protection of public health in rural areas and have given the owners of private water supplies the wherewithal to make decisions confidently, regarding their supply when scheduling and carrying out maintenance works.

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