Thousands of businesses affected by water supply loss but many unprepared, research reveals

Check out how prepared businesses say they are in 2019 in the latest survey. There’s also information on how many had experienced a loss of water supply at their site and top tips for SMEs on how to be prepared.

In the last year, thousands of businesses across England were impacted by water supply interruptions at their sites.
And a survey with businesses reveals nearly half of British businesses (48%) do not have a plan in place for dealing with a major water supply interruption, despite relying on mains water, provided through the water wholesalers’ networks.
The ‘freeze-thaw’ in February and early March 2018 left over 200,000 people in England and Wales without water for over 4 hours and tens of thousands were left off supply for days, official reports in 2018 showed. There have also been a significant number of mains water pipe bursts in the last few years on the water wholesalers' networks in England and Wales.

Independent research with 1,109 UK organisations by YouGov, requested by business water retailer Water Plus, showed the manufacturing sector would be hardest hit by a supply interruption, with 1 in 10 (11%) saying they would lose all production output in the event of water supply failure.
Scott MacIndeor is Head of Advanced Services at Water Plus, which provides contingency planning for businesses with multiple sites.
He said: “We’ve helped multi-site customers with more than 22 water tanker deliveries, and additional water storage, to help supplies on sites but it’s really important to know how much water your operation needs to run each day, have a plan for any supply interruptions and to know where you will get water from if your site does go off supply. Loss of supply can have a major impact on a business and have financial implications too.
“While the UK’s mains water supply network is typically resilient, disruption can and does occur. All businesses are reliant on a mains water supply to some extent, particularly those in the manufacturing and hospitality sectors.” 
Businesses are also at risk of water supply disruption caused by issues on their own premises and for network supply interruptions what the wholesaler provides varies according to the statutory rules that govern UK water suppliers. Businesses are also responsible for the water pipes on their sites, from the point of the water meter, as well as the maintenance of these and arranging any repairs to leaks or other damage to them.

Make sure your business knows where it will get water supplies from if there is an interruption as the wholesalers may have no additional supplies or alternatives to provide to your site to keep it functioning.

Scott continued: “Financial losses can be huge for businesses who see water on their site stop. Producing a water contingency plan is relatively inexpensive, but can be an important strategic investment.
“Business interruption insurance that can help to cover you for these scenarios is also worth exploring.”
Six things to consider when implementing a water contingency plan

  1. How reliant is your company on its mains water supply for your production output and have you considered how a water pressure drop on your supply may affect your site?
  2. Would staff be able to continue working in the event of a disruption of mains water supply?
  3. What would be the financial impact of a mains water supply disruption for your business for a day or several days?
  4. What would be the impact on your relationship with your customers if your supplies reduced significantly?
  5. Do you have a contingency plan in place to cope with a disruption of mains water supply?
  6. How much water do you use each day and how much would you need in the event of a water issue?

You can find out more about contingency planning for your business on our websiteOn the website page you can find out more about taking steps to be prepared for unexpected water supply interruptions as well as our contingency planning service, leak detection and repair service and explore more around emergency water deliveries for your business.

If you’re interested in data loggers to track water consumption across multiple sites or multiple water meters, or you’re interested in using our leak detection and repair service or contingency planning service, please email to see how we can help. Please note: that this email inbox is monitored 8:30am to 5:30pm Monday to Friday, excluding Bank Holidays.
It’s the responsibility of the wholesaler for your area to provide a continuous supply of good quality water to business customers. They have target timescales to restore mains water, however they work on a best endeavours basis and priority is given to domestic users and sensitive sites such as hospitals, care homes and prisons. Make sure you have appropriate contingency plans in place, and that your staff know what to do.  

You can find out more about the steps to take if you have no water at your site here.

**Figures quoted on freeze/thaw in 2018 are from an Ofwat report published on 19 June 2018.

About the YouGov survey
The independent research, commissioned by Water Plus also found almost a third (30% of 442 questioned) of Britain’s largest companies had no contingency plans for disruption to their supply, despite two fifths (39% of 421 questioned) of large businesses who would need one, admitting they were concerned about experiencing an interruption. In the survey Britain's largest firms are those with more than 250 employees. YouGov research sampled: 1,109GB B2B senior decision makers. The survey was carried out online between 5 - 12 June 2017. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.


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