Water checks for charities and community groups are worth the time

Coronavirus has caused challenges for many organisations though looking closer at water use at your charity is worth the time and can save significant amounts of money.

It’s also worth remembering water retailers can speak to organisations who are struggling to pay water bills during 2021 about payment options and support

We understand that for all types of businesses it’s important to be able to keep control over your water bill, this can be especially important for charities who are working to a tight budget.

So, as part of ways we support charitieswe’ve put together some helpful information and advice to help keep costs down – and help the environment too. Whether you’re running a large group of support centres or a single charity shop we have some useful tips for you. Although it’s a very busy time with charity shops and community groups getting back on-site and opening up or starting activities, the information below will help for now – and later this year.


Regularly check your site pipes and look out for water issues…

Unfortunately, wear and tear does happen, and if you let a leak slip under the radar at your charity shop, warehouse, head office or other building, it can end up being very costly. To ensure you don’t inadvertently rack up a big  water bill, checking for leaks every now and then is essential.

It’s worth looking at the usual fixtures and fittings including toilets – urinals constantly flushing etc), leaks in toilet bowls that wouldn’t be seen, any external pipes (hoses, outside taps etc). This sports club, that also held community outreach activities, cut its water use by having water-saving equipment installed.

Often leaks can’t be seen or heard, so regularly looking out for signs of these – at least each month - is important. This four-step guide outlines how to detect water leaks on your business premises - take a look at it here.

If your site isn’t in use during winter months, or for a period of time, it’s worth making sure you turn off your incoming water supply, if you can, and that someone regularly checks for leaks on-site.

It’s worth remembering your responsibility for repairs and maintenance of pipes start at the boundary of your land. Reopening a location? There are steps to take to make sure you limit any water issues too.

Check your water meter and take regular reads…

If you can and it’s safe to, keep an eye on your water meter and look at your water bills regularly – ideally each month - to identify any sudden unexpected increases. A spike in water usage can be the first sign of a leak on the property, so meter checks should be performed often.

Providing regular meter readings to your retailer each month also means your bills will be kept up to date and not based on estimates, which with the last year we’ve seen may be higher than your actual water use as they would be based on consumption in the past. Here’s more on the benefits from regular meter reads.

Are you paying VAT on your water bill?

You can check your water bill to see if you’re being charged VAT. It’s worth thinking about what activities your charity do so you can check what VAT code your account should be registered under. You can view more on our VAT blog here and further information and our list of codes here.

Extra things you can do to help reduce your bill - and help the environment too…

​​- Further funding options for environmental projects and work
Severn Trent’s Community Fund for charities and other groups for projects that help to look after the natural environment (based in and to benefit the Severn Trent area)
- Grants to help improve the places and spaces for communities here and here

And if you have a large site…

How can your property banding effect the cost of your bill?

 

The cost of your Surface Water and Highways Drainage is based on the size of your premises’ chargeable area that drains to the public sewer. You’ll find this charge and your charging band itemised on your bill. It’s worth checking that yours is correct. You can get more information around your banding charges and other steps to consider on your water retailer's websites.

If yours isn’t correct, you can download our ‘Application to review your site area charging band form’ to get it looked into. If your banding is correct you can still look at ways to help reduce it, you can click here to find some more information on measures you can take to do this and how to progress any claim or enquiry.
 

Greater green steps can also cut your long-term costs

 

For those with space on their site, or with large roof areas, sustainable drainage including green roofs, ponds and wetlands, along with rainwater harvesting and reuse - to reduce the amount of water going back to the public sewers - is worth considering. This can make a difference in wholesaler banding charges for surface water drainage (based on site area), reducing annual costs for businesses and public sector organisations. There may be an upfront cost for these measures but the savings pay back the investment each year and community groups can apply for grants.

Other useful links:

If you’re a charity based in Scotland

If you run a charity registered in Scotland or Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) you may be able to get help with the cost of your water and sewerage charges

The Water and Sewerage Charges Exemption Scheme lets you apply for an exemption every year (from 1 April to 31 March). For more information see the below links:

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