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Action Plan recommends improvements in on farm hygiene and private water supplies to tackle E.coli

An action group established to produce an Action Plan for Scotland in order to tackle VTEC/ E.coli O157 has put forward 86 recommendations aimed at reducing infection by focusing on hygiene on the farm, in the countryside and through private water supplies.

  • The Scottish Government, the DWQR, SoCOEHS and REHIS should determine local authorities’ training needs for their statutory duties relating to PWS, and should develop and deliver training as appropriate.
  • The Scottish Government, in partnership with Local Authorities, DWQR, and public health professionals should develop a strategy to further promote the benefits of the risk assessment and risk management approach for PWS and the PWS grants scheme to deliver real and lasting improvements to PWS and consequential health benefits. This strategy should include:
    • (a) Methods for improving awareness of the potential health risks from PWS to owners and users and their visitors, and the need for correct installation, operation and maintenance of treatment systems.
    • (b) The Scottish Government updating section 11 of the PWS Technical Manual (Waterborne Hazard Response for PWS) to include more information on dealing with waterborne incidents; and increase the range and detail on treatment options for small supplies following consultation with Local Authorities, REHIS, DWQR and HPS.
    • (c) The Scottish Government, in liaison with DWQR, should review the ‘Information Guide’ for owners and users of PWS in line with recommendations from recent research by Aberdeen University. Scottish Government, Local Authorities, DWQR, REHIS


  • The Scottish Government should consider the following recommendations from an Incident Management Team Report, which propose that SG should:
    • (a) “Create a compulsory registration scheme for properties supplied by a PWS, to aid rapid investigation and provision of advice subsequent to a case of E. coli O157 infection” (this should also include non-O157 VTEC).
    • (b) “Require landlords of properties served by a PWS, to inform their tenant(s) of this in their lease, and to advise tenants on the implications for health”.


  • The Scottish Government should liaise with Local Authorities, REHIS and SoCOEHS, and consult with DWQR, to consider methods of improving:
    • (a) Compliance by owners/users of PWS serving public or commercial activities, with legislation requiring them to display notices informing the public that a PWS is in use.
    • (b) The extent to which PWS owners/users are complying with the advice from Local Authority risk assessments and sampling, on how to improve/protect their supplies.

Recommendations for on the farm hygiene include:

  • The Scottish Government should liaise with agricultural educational establishments, SEPA, NFUS and other stakeholders (e.g. QMS) relevant to farming and rural communities, to ensure that watercourses and the environment are protected by correct application of relevant guidance e.g. the PEPFAA code, Safe Sludge Matrix.
  • The Scottish Government should review current land access codes and provide guidance to minimise contamination of environments used for food crops by the public or by animals.

A copy of the Action Plan and full list of actions is available at:


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