Pollution Control - Water


Water pollution is the contamination of streams, lakes, underground water or rivers by substances harmful to living things. The major water pollutants are chemical, biological or physical materials that degrade water quality. Water pollutants can result from many human activities, for example:

  • residential communities contribute mostly sewage, mixed with traces of household chemicals, commonly through misconnections of pipework
  • industrial pollutants may enter water sources from the outfall pipes of factories or may leak from pipelines and underground storage tanks
  • sometimes industries discharge pollutants into city sewers, increasing the variety of pollutants in urban areas

In Haringey the most common form of water pollution is via misconnections of household pipework to surface water drains; which then flow into rivers and streams. The Environment Agency is the environmental regulator for water and is responsible for maintaining or improving the quality of fresh, marine, surface and underground water in England and Wales. Its aim is to prevent or reduce the risk of water pollution wherever possible and to ensure that pollution that might affect ecosystems or people is cleaned up. In addition, the Water Resources Act 1963 (external link) places a duty on it to ensure the proper use of water resources in England and Wales. Further information can be obtained from the Environment Agency water pollution page (external link).

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Who is responsible for water quality?

Mains water

The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) is responsible for assessing the quality of drinking water in England and Wales, taking enforcement action if standards are not being met and appropriate action when water is unfit for human consumption.

Private water supplies

The Private Water Supply Regulations 2009 (external link) came into force on 1 January 2010 and require the council to check the quality of private water supplies. The regulations impose new monitoring duties and require the local authority to carry out a risk assessment on specific areas of the water supply. In addition revised water quality standards and tighter monitoring of certain supplies are intended. The new regulations will specifically impact on supplies for human consumption purposes which on average provide 10 or more cubic metres of water per day or serve 50 or more persons, or are supplied or used as part of a commercial or public activity. They also introduce the concept of a private distribution system where a public supply is further distributed to other outlets, eg caravan parks, shopping centres, industrial estates, educational establishments and hospitals.

The Private Water Supply Regulations 2009 permits Haringey Council to recover costs associated with providing particular services to private supply owners/operators in fulfilment of their duties under the Regulations. These duties include carrying out risk assessments, investigations and taking and analysing samples.

If you believe that your home or business is served by a private water supply or a private distribution system, or if you would like any further information, please contact us.

For general advice on private water supplies see:

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What areas of water quality is Environmental Health responsible for?

Private Water Supplies

We have a number of domestic and commercial private water supplies where we are the responsible authority for monitoring their quality both microbiologically (bacteria) and chemically (eg pesticides).

The legislation we use is made under the Water Industry Act 1991 and is called the Private Water Supply Regulations 2009 (external link).

This tells us what the standards of the water should be and how often we have to test the water depending on its use.

Bathing Waters

We are responsible for checking the quality of all swimming pools in the borough, including leisure centres, private health clubs, hotels and outdoor pools, hospital hydrotherapy pools, Jacuzzi's and paddling pools.

We check these on a monthly basis for chemical levels as well as yearly for microbiological quality (bacteria) unless there is a complaint or a problem with the chemical tests, in which case the frequency will be increased.

Mains Water Supply

The testing of domestic mains water is undertaken by Thames Water.

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Water pollution incidents

Any incidents of water pollution in rivers or brooks can be reported to the Environment Agency using their Incident Hotline on 0800 80 70 60 (Freephone, 24 hour service). Please do not use e-mail to report an incident, as this could delay the response.

Further information can be obtained as follows:

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Will the council test the drinking water in my home?
If your water is supplied by a water company (eg Thames Water) you should contact them. The contact details will be on your water bill. If the water to your home is not supplied from the water mains we will take samples of the water - we may make a charge for this.

Does the council check the quality of mains water?
No, not routinely. The Drinking Water Inspectorate do this and publish reports. The Water companies do have a duty to keep the council informed about the water quality in the area. The Drinking Water Inspectorate check that the water companies comply with this requirement.

Does the council check the quality of water drawn from private supplies?
Yes. The Private Water Supplies Regulations 2009 require us to have a sampling programme for these supplies. The Regulations set the standard the water must attain, the frequency of sampling and what we test for.

Will the council test the drinking water in my work place?
Yes, if the council is responsible for health and safety regulations at the work place, or we may refer you to the Health and Safety Executive. If the work place manufactures food we may take water samples as part of our duties under food safety legislation.

I am concerned about the water quality in the pool at my gym. Will the council sample the water?
Yes, we will investigate your concerns and taking a water sample may form part of this work.

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Carbon Management Team
Level 6 North - River Park House
225 High Road
Wood Green
N22 8HQ

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Page last updated:

October 24, 2022

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