Go to navigation
Water pollution is the contamination of streams, lakes,
underground water or the sea 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
- industrial pollutants may enter water sources from the outfall
pipes of factories or may leak from pipelines and underground
- sometimes industries discharge pollutants into city sewers,
increasing the variety of pollutants in urban areas
- polluted water may flow from mines where the water has leached
through mineral-rich rocks or has been contaminated by the
chemicals used in processing the ores
- pollutants from farms and pastures contribute animal wastes,
agricultural chemicals and sediment from erosion.
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 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.
If you are concerned about pollution in a river, stream or
Who is responsible for water quality?
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
Water Supply Regulations 2009 came into force on 1 January
2010. The regulations impose new monitoring duties and require the
local authority to carry out a risk assessment on specific areas of
the 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; for example, caravan parks, shopping
centres, industrial estates, educational establishments and
The Private Water Supply Regulations 2009 permits Medway 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. Go to the breakdown of costs and charges.
The Private Water Supply Regulations 2009 require the
council to check the quality of private water supplies.
However, Medway Council does not currently have any registered
private water supplies.
DWI has produced a leaflet:
New Private Water Supply Regulations: What do they mean for
owners and consumers.
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 using the contact
For general advice on private water supplies go to
Supplies or the Drinking Water Inspectorate
To report a water pollution problem to Medway Council, please
use one of these two online forms: