Occasionally customers may find their water supply has been interrupted. This could either be unexpectedly in an emergency because a water pipe has burst, or due to planned work when the water company is making improvements to the water network. Unfortunately, a bit like the weather, supply interruptions can be a fact of life. Water companies do however have a responsibility for notifying you about planned work and keeping you informed about interruptions to your water supply.
In this blog I break down the responsibilities of the wholesaler and retailer in the event any water supply interruptions.
Wholesalers and Retailers
It might be helpful if we explain some new terms in the water industry. Since the opening of the water market on 1 April 2017, water companies have been separated into:
Wholesalers – businesses that treat and supply water, look after water networks and control leakage
Retailers – businesses like us here at Affinity for Business who invoice customers for their water services and provide customer service
If your water supply is going to be cut off for more than 4 hours to carry out necessary works, you must be given written notice of this at least 48 hours in advance. This notification should also tell you what time the water will be back on by. This is usually done by the Wholesaler who will typically do a door drop of notices to all household and business customers affected by the water supply interruption.
Tip: if you have a security office, make sure they pass any supply interruption notices to the appropriate person or department responsible for utilities as soon as they receive one.
The Wholesaler will also notify retailers about any planned work. We will then get in contact with our customers by phone or email to give details about the supply interruption.
Tip: If you haven’t already done so, please let us have your contact details so we can get in touch when we need to. Simply click here to update your contact details.
You can check any work going on in your area by clicking here.
What happens if I’m not informed about an interruption to my supply?
We will credit your water account by £50 if the following apply:
- You were not told in advance about the interruption
- You were notified but the water is not restored by the time specified in the notice
When your water supply is interrupted during a non-planned emergency, water companies must take all reasonable steps to notify affected customers as soon as is reasonably practicable.
At Affinity for Business we will usually do this by putting a message on our customer service telephone line and we will also contact sensitive customers such as hospitals. The Wholesaler for your region is also likely to update their website.
We will credit your water account with £50 if:
- Your water supply is not restored within 12 hours of the Wholesaler becoming aware of the interruption, unless
- The problem is on a larger strategic water main where we will credit your account with £50 if your water is not restored within 48 hours
If your supply remains interrupted after the periods above, we will credit your account with a further £25 for each full 24-hour period when you still have no water.
There are exceptions to the above e.g. if the supply cannot be restored due to severe weather, industrial action or during a drought.
Does the water company have to provide my business with alternative water during supply interruptions?
No. Just as electricity and gas supplies can be interrupted from time to time, it is recognised by the water industry regulator Ofwat that this can also happen with water supplies. That’s why we always recommend that you carry out a risk assessment of your business to understand how vulnerable you would be to have your water disconnected. Once this is understood you can develop a contingency plan to mitigate against this risk.
For smaller businesses, this may be as simple as having access to fresh bottled water or knowing where you can get them quickly if needed. For larger businesses that need a continuous water supply, we recommend that you have storage tanks that can hold enough water to get you through a full working day. For organisations that are water critical, in addition to bottled water and storage, you may also want to make arrangements with a company like Water Direct who can provide alternative water supplies.
Am I entitled to compensation for loss of business caused by an interruption to my water supply?
In general customers cannot claim compensation if their water supply is interrupted, apart from the payments shown above which only apply in specific circumstances. That is why we recommend you carry out a risk assessment to understand and mitigate against the risk to your business.
However, we appreciate that some supply interruption situations are not straight forward. If you do feel you should be entitled to compensation for any loss of business, please get in contact with us and we will take this up on your behalf with the Wholesaler. We also do recommend that you check your business insurance as this may be covered by your policy.
Get more information on who to contact in an emergency or any unplanned impacts to your supply.