Given the importance of water for public health, we are doing everything we can to maintain the water supply and protect customers. We are confident that the water industry will continue to provide clean, safe, reliable drinking water for everyone.
Across the industry companies are working together so that every single person across the UK can continue to rely on their water supply and sewerage service. We are working closely with our regulators and governments to ensure we continue to work to the most up-to-date information and guidance.
On this page we attempt to answer some of the questions that customers might have in relation to water during the COVID-19 outbreak. We advise customers to continue to check the Water UK website for the latest advice as we will update this guidance as new information becomes available.
We know this is an extremely difficult time for all customers and the last thing people want to be worrying about is how they are going to pay their bills.
Because of this water companies in England and Wales have stepped up efforts to help customers who have lost their jobs or had their incomes cut during the coronavirus crisis.
The companies are encouraging households suffering from immediate or short-term issues with paying their bills to get in contact so that they can receive help.
If you are concerned about your bill you should contact your water company through their website. If you are unsure who your water company is you can search for them using our postcode finder here
All water companies provide a range of support to customers. These include schemes such as payment holidays and payment matching.
Companies will continue to help customers pay their bills through WaterSure, Social Tariffs and other affordability schemes, and they are actively reaching out to customers to encourage them – and their friends and families – to take advantage of the help available on bills. This is especially important if someone’s financial circumstances have suddenly changed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
And please remember – we will never cut off your water supply if you can’t pay your bill.
More information on the kind of help companies put in place in March, in the early stages of the lockdown to provide immediate assistance to customers, can be found here
As the situation has evolved, water companies have adapted their approach. Companies have maintained a wide range of support measures for customers who are struggling financially due to COVID-19, and encourage all customers who need assistance to contact their water company.
Now that most government restrictions have been lifted, companies are also returning to using their full range of approaches to encourage customers who can pay to do so, to keep costs low for all customers and seek to avoid debt building up. This includes collections visits, using external agencies and court applications on unpaid bills where appropriate – while at all times being sensitive to the difficult circumstances.
Contacting your water company
Please be aware that water company phone lines could get busy with longer than usual waiting times at the moment.
Where possible please try online options – through your water company’s website, email or social media. Many of these channels will be able to help with queries, leaving phone lines free for urgent enquiries.
Please look out for any communication from your water company.
Your water supply
The whole water industry is working hard to ensure customers continue to enjoy the same world class water and sewerage service they expect.
And in case you were wondering, your tap water remains perfectly safe to drink and there is no risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus through it.
Defra, the Environment Agency and the Joint Biosecurity Centre are working closely with water companies, and leading universities, to establish sewage monitoring as part of an advance warning system to detect new outbreaks of coronavirus.
The latest research from the World Health Organisation concludes there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission to humans through sewage, but non-infectious traces of the virus can remain in the sewer system.
Researchers believe that testing sewage can help them understand more about the concentration of the disease in local populations.
Water company staff are continuing to work on their networks, but they are limiting direct contact with customers unless it’s an emergency. They will be taking the necessary precautions for those people who are self-isolating if they do need to visit them. The water industry’s priority is to keep customers and colleagues safe.
Water company workers
During this time you may see water company personnel out on the streets. It is essential that we continue to maintain our network and deal with any problems that arise which is why industry workers have been officially designated as key workers by the Government.
If you see someone repairing a pipe or dealing with a leak please don’t approach them. The water industry’s priority is to keep customers and colleagues safe at this time so staff will be following the Government guidance on social distancing.
Find out more about the role of water company personnel during the outbreak here.
What you can do
While we appreciate that some people have been struggling to find toilet paper due to panic-buying we are asking customers not to flush kitchen roll or wet wipes down the toilet.
Nothing should be flushed down the toilet apart from the 3 Ps – pee, poo and toilet paper – and only wipes which have the official ‘Fine to Flush’ symbol. This is because the blockages caused by wipes and products like kitchen roll which are not designed to be flushed can lead to sewer flooding – with raw sewage flooding people’s kitchens and bathrooms.
Download our ‘Keeping your water running’ infographic here