Scots farmers advised to use water grant after E coli found

Farmers in Scotland have been urged to apply for an £800 water quality improvement grant, after tests revealed 7,000 private supplies were contaminated with E coli bacteria.

The tests were carried out by Scotland’s Drinking Water Quality Regulator (SDWQR), which sampled 48,384 private water supplies in 2019.

Results revealed 14.5% (7,015) of the samples contained the E coli bacteria, which can cause serious ill health and indicates faecal contamination of the supply.

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Many small-scale supplies to single households, farms and holiday accommodation were found to have little or no treatment and so failed to meet SDWQR standards.

The latest figures represent a significant deterioration on 2018 results, where 11% of samples contained E coli, SDWQR said.

Scotland’s drinking water quality regulator Sue Petch said:

“It is concerning that the quality of private water supplies is not improving and I am especially worried about those supplies that tested positive for E coli.

“These supplies represent a risk to the residents, visitors and customers who consume them.”

Ms Petch urged farms to make improvements.

“It is vital that these supplies are improved so that people using them have a safe and reliable supply of drinking water.

“Local authorities can offer advice and support, as well as enabling access to an £800 Scottish government grant,” she said.

Improving quality

A range of treatment options is available for private water supplies.

Disinfection using ultra-violet light is relatively simple to install and maintain, but may require pre-filtration to remove substances such as iron, manganese and natural colour in the water.

All treatment processes require some maintenance and specialist advice may be needed.

How to apply for an £800 grant

The Scottish government non-means tested grant of £800 per property is available for improving private water supplies.

To apply, visit the application page on the website 

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