Given the importance of water for public health, we are doing everything we can to maintain the water supply and protect customers. 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 in the UK can continue to rely on their water supply and wastewater 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 pandemic. We advise customers to continue to check the Water UK website for the latest advice as we will update this guidance.
Protecting pipes from freezing and bursting
Water companies are urging customer to protect their homes and businesses from water leaks caused by frozen pipes thawing out.
Taking simple steps such as insulating pipes, bleeding radiators or locating your stop tap (also known as a stopcock or stop valve) will help protect your pipes and keep your central heating running smoothly. In case of emergencies, it is advisable to have the number of a reputable plumber on hand.
If you experience any supply interruption, please contact your water company. It is important to let your water company know if you or a member of your household are shielding or would have difficulty accessing alternative water supplies.
Continue to check your water company’s website and social media channels for the latest advice.
If you are unsure who your water company is you can search for them using our postcode finder here.
Paying your water bills
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 first 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.
Companies have also returned 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.
The majority of companies are ending all visits to customers’ homes except in an emergency. If home visits are deemed necessary all water company personnel will wear appropriate PPE and abide by social distancing guidance.
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.
A recently published paper from Bangor University (Professor Davey L Jones) suggests the likelihood of infection due to contact with sewage-contaminated water is extremely low or negligible but non-infectious traces of the virus can remain in the sewer system.
This is in line with other evidence and risk assessments carried out by the World Health Organisation and the UK Government.
Researchers believe that testing sewage can help them understand more about the concentration of the disease in local populations.
Water company workers
It is essential that we continue to maintain our networks and deal with any problems which arise during periods of lockdown.
As a result, you may see workers from your local water companies out on the streets repairing a leak or replacing a pipe. Our priority is to keep our customers and colleagues safe so we ask you not to approach water company personnel who will be following Government guidance on social distancing.
What you can do
During this time there are things you can do to help us provide you with the best possible service. 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 other products which are not designed to be flushed can lead to sewer flooding – with raw sewage flooding people’s kitchens and bathrooms.