Water regulator criticises planning and communication


Ofwat, the regulator for the water industry has said whilst the priority is getting water flowing again, after the crises they will take a “long, hard look at what has happened”.

The regulations state that when your water supply is interrupted, your company should tell you:

  • where to get an alternative supply
  • the time by when the supply will be restored
  • the phone number from which you can get further information

Replacement water supply

If the piped supply of water fails, the companies must provide at least 10 litres of water per person per day to affected consumers within the first 24 hours, and maintain this until the piped supply is restored. They may do this by providing bottled water or through bowsers or stand pipes.


In some circumstances, customers are entitled to compensation under the guaranteed standards scheme.  Some water companies may have more generous voluntary schemes.

Ofwat’s Chief Executive Rachel Fletcher said:Ofwat's logo - the water regulator in England and Wales

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 they’ve been providing, leaving some customers high and dry.

Everyone’s number one priority must be getting the water flowing as quickly as possible and ensuring that all customers – in particular those in vulnerable circumstances – get the support they need. When the taps are back on, we will take a long, hard look at what has happened here and we won’t hesitate to intervene if we find that companies have not had the right structures and mechanisms in place to be resilient enough.

Ofwat’s website explains the process for making a complaint:  www.ofwat.gov.uk.



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