Thousands of homes in England and Wales are still without water for a fourth day – if you’re affected here’s what you need to know.
The thaw following the snow last week has caused widespread leaks and bursts in water mains and pipes, across London, Sussex, Kent and parts of Wales, leaving some homes without any water and others with low pressure.
If you’re affected your water company has a duty to look after you, including providing water and possibly paying compensation.
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I have no water what should I do?
If there’s a problem affecting your home your water company has to tell you your supply has been interrupted or cut off, where to get an alternative supply, what time you should expect normal service to be restored and provide information on where to get more help.
If your taps are completely dry, water firms must provide at least 10 litres of water per person per day within the first 24 hours of your supply being off, and continue to do so until running water is restored.
Often you will need to pick up water from local collection points, arranged by your supplier at supermarkets or car parks. See the table below for more information on where you can get help. Vulnerable people should contact their water company for help if they can’t collect in person.
If you’ve had no water you could be entitled to compensation
Ofwat, the water regulator for England and Wales, sets out the minimum compensation levels customers should automatically be paid if their water supply is affected under the Guaranteed Standards Scheme. Some firms will pay more, but here’s the minimum you could be owed:
- No water supply for 48 hours If your supply is cut off for 48 hours in an emergency due to a leak or burst in a strategic main, you’ll be entitled to £20, and then £10 for each 24 hour period thereafter. If your supplier doesn’t pay this within 20 days it may also have to pay you at ‘late payment penalty’ of £20.
- Low pressure If water pressure falls below the required level twice within a 28 day period, for more than an hour each time, you’ll be entitled to £25.
While there are exceptions if extreme weather prevents repair, Ofwat says it ‘would nevertheless expect companies to pay this compensation to customers’.
According to Ofwat the company should automatically pay the compensation, but if you have not received it you must claim it within three months of the problem – so if you’re unsure check with your water firm.
Here is what each company is offering to do to help:
The leak is on my property what should I do?
Be aware, if the burst pipes are within the boundaries of your home, they may be considered out of the control of your water supply company and this could affect your compensation. In this case, you should call a plumber instead of your water supplier.
If the burst pipe damages your property, you need to check if you’re covered under your home insurance. See our Home Insurance guide for more information.
‘A number of water companies appear to have fallen well short on their forward planning’
Following the water shortages, some suppliers have been criticised their lack of preparation for the extreme weather.
Ofwat chief executive Rachel Fletcher said: “The ongoing water supply problems affecting the country, most particularly parts of London and the South East of England, have been deeply distressing for all those affected. While the recent severe freeze and thaw have undoubtedly had an impact on pipes and infrastructure, this weather was forecast in advance. A number of water companies appear to have fallen well short on their forward planning and the quality of support and communication theyve been providing, leaving some customers high and dry.”
Tony Smith, chief executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “Given the huge inconvenience this has caused to many customers we think the standard automatic payments are the minimum they should expect. We expect water companies to be sympathetic to customers – whether they are individuals or businesses that have suffered extra hardship or losses and be open to considering additional compensation where appropriate.”