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Drinking water

Lead in drinking water

In Scotland, lead does not occur naturally in significant concentrations in our water supplies. The problem arises when drinking water comes into contact with lead supply pipes, lead tanks, lead solder joints on copper pipes, or inferior quality brass fittings and taps, particularly for longer periods (e.g. overnight/weekends/holidays). This can result in high lead levels in the drinking water supply.

You should always drink water from the cold water tap in the kitchen as this is almost certainly connected to the cold water mains supply. Do not use water from the hot tap for drinking or cooking, do not use water from the hot tap for making baby formula.

If you suspect you have lead pipes, Fife Council encourage you to take further action to establish whether lead is present and to take steps to replace them. In the short term, you should implement some precautionary measures to protect your health such as letting the cold tap run for a few minutes before you use it, especially if you’ve been away for a while.

If you have a concern about the level of lead in your cold water supply, you can email us at to request a test for your water supply.

Information on the health effects of exposure to lead can be found on the NHS Inform website.

Private water supplies

There are around 338 private water supplies in Fife and during times of prolonged dry weather many of these private supplies from springs, surface water or wells may become depleted or fall.

Significant rainfall over a prolonged period is needed to restock some supplies, but that’s not expected to happen soon. Those affected are being encouraged to use water wisely and follow this advice:

  • Ensure your supply is secure, with no leaks
  • Take a timed shower, rather than a bath
  • Make sure washing machines and dishwashers are fully loaded
  • Collect rainwater for use in the garden and use a watering can rather than a hose
  • Use a cistern displacement device

If you have a private water supply that’s run dry and you need an emergency supply of bottled drinking water, please contact us for advice and assistance by emailing

If you have a problem out of hours call 03451 550099 (this phoneline is only available 5pm - 8am Monday to Friday and all-day Saturday and Sunday).

Find out more about how you can save water on the Scottish Water Website.

And for more information about the current water scarcity situation, please see SEPA's website.

Users of private water supplies can follow these links for lots of helpful information:

Useful Links

Contact:  Building Standards & Public Safety