Water testing: Who is responsible?

In the UK, clean drinking water is something that’s often taken for granted.

While it is the norm in most offices and business premises, there are processes behind treating this water. There is also a responsibility from the premises owner to ensure water is continuously safe for drinking and for all other purposes. This is where water testing comes in.


Why should we test water?

It is a legal responsibility to maintain water quality for anyone using your building. Because of this, many landlords and business owners carry out regular water testing. This allows them to:

  • Ensure they legally comply with regulations
  • Have safe drinking water in their premises
  • Ensure their water testing is effective
  • Monitor any treatment changes over time


What influences safe drinking water?

Safe drinking water is non-negotiable in an office or business premises. There are several factors which mean water isn’t safe to drink. Therefore, water quality should be regularly monitored in these settings. The main factors include:


E.coli is a microbe found in water that can cause humans harm. The presence of E.coli in water indicates that pathogens are also present in the water system. Most commonly these pathogens would include Legionella, Salmonella or Hepatitis A. Some people are at more of a risk against pathogens than others, these include children, older people or those with weak immune systems.

Old pipes

Pipes that have had more use are more likely to have collected rust or scale. Because of this, they may begin to break down and release particles of iron, hydrogen or phosphate into the water. If this happens it enables bacteria to multiply.

Rigidity of the water system

If pipes in the water system are weak or have leaks, this can cause bacteria to cling to these surfaces. Also, if water tanks make up some part of the system, this can also lead to an increase in microbes.

Water storage conditions

The source of water and how it is stored can largely affect its quality. Water storage temperature is an example of this. If the water system is poorly designed, the temperature of the water may rise or cool to match that outside. This increases the risk of pathogens in the water.


What should you test for?

There are a number of microbes that could reside in a water system therefore it is important to test regularly. The main test should include:

  • Total viable count (TVC) – this is an estimate of how many microorganisms are in the water, in turn determining its overall water quality.
  • Legionella and Pseudomonas testing.
  • The water’s physical and chemical makeup.


How is water tested?

How to test your water systems largely depends on the complexity of the system and the tests you need to carry out. Some tests sure as temperature checks can be done easily with a thermometer. However, most tests involve taking a sample and sending it to a lab in a specific set of conditions for testing.

A simple process is followed even for laboratory testing. A water hygiene company will collect samples from the water system on site. Then the sample will be transported to a lab and you will receive the results along with guidance on their outcomes.


How often should water testing take place?

The frequency of water testing from your system should be evaluated according to the apparent risk. For example, quarterly checks are recommended for Legionella testing; however, this could be more frequently depending on your latest Legionella Risk Assessment.

Water testing is a very important aspect of any water treatment programme. Even if water looks clean, chemical contamination can be colourless and odourless. It is also a requirement to keep your employees or building users safe.