Water proposals add costs to farmers in Wales

Welsh farmers are being urged to respond to plans to give local authorities sweeping powers to test private water supplies.

The Farmers Union of Wales has warned members that the proposed Private Water Supplies (Wales) Regulations 2009 will have significant financial implications.

The proposals would allow local authority staff to sample and analyse small private drinking water supplies at least once a year and test large-scale supplies even more frequently, it said.

Rhian Nowell-Phillips, the union’s senior policy officer, said: “They will monitor private supplies to check that they meet drinking water quality standards and satisfy other requirements that determine whether water is wholesome, clean and is not a risk to human health.”

Authorities would be allowed to charge fees of between £75 and £435 when they carried out monitoring, up to £100 for each risk assessment and up to £80 for each visit that officers must make to take samples.

But the Welsh assembly proposed that there should be a joint fee of up to £125 where a local authority combined a visit to take samples with an inspection or investigation for the purposes of carrying out a risk assessment.

Farmers also needed to be aware that when the quality of a private water supply fell below the required standard, because the source was contaminated or the distribution system was in poor condition, the provider would be compelled to take action.

Those responsible for the water supply would have to arrange and pay for any remedial action.

“It is obvious from the consultation paper that these proposals give local authorities sweeping powers,” said Ms Nowell-Phillis.

“I urge all farmers to make their views known to their nearest FUW county office well before the June 5 deadline”

Farmers can comment on the consultation by writing to Phil Chatfield, Welsh Assembly Government, PWS Consultation, Climate Change and Water Division, Cathays Park, Cardiff, CF10 3NQ.

Alternatively they can email.

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