Complaining about your water company

This advice applies to England. See advice for See advice for Northern Ireland, See advice for Scotland, See advice for Wales

You may have a complaint about your water bill, water supply or the standard of service you've received from your water company.

Read this page to find out how to go about making a complaint to your water company and what you can do if you're not happy with their response.

When you might want to complain to your water company

There are various reasons you might want to complain to your water company. This could include complaints about:

  • failure to keep an appointment

  • interruption to your water supply

  • water pressure

  • the way they have handled an account query.

You may be entitled to compensation for some complaints.

Complaining to your water company

Each water company has a complaints procedure which is usually in two stages. If you write to the company, you should receive a reply within ten working days. If the company doesn’t reply in this time, they must pay £20 as compensation within ten working days. If they don’t pay the compensation in time, you can ask for a further payment of £10, as long as you do this within three months.

Complaining to the Consumer Council for Water (CCW)

If you’ve been through all the stages of your water company’s written complaints procedure and are still unhappy with their response, you can refer the matter to CCW. CCW is an independent consumer organisation which deals with complaints about water companies.

You can contact CCW by email or letter, attaching copies of any communication with the water company. You can also fill out an online form or telephone them.

CCW will look into the complaint and let you know the outcome. They may ask the water company to take action to sort out your complaint.

CCW will be able to handle your query more quickly if you contact the local office with responsibility for overseeing the water company you're complaining about.

If CCW can’t settle your complaint

You can ask CCW to refer your case for adjudication. An independent adjudicator will review the evidence from you and the water company, then make a decision about any redress or compensation that should be paid to you.

You can choose to accept or reject the decision. If you accept the decision, the water company is legally bound to give you the compensation ordered by the adjudicator. If you don't agree with the decision, you can choose to make a claim through the courts. 

Talk to your CCW adviser if you want to begin the adjudication process.

Complaining to OFWAT

In some cases, you may be able to complain to OFWAT, the water industry regulator, but only about certain things. You should approach CCW first as they will normally be able to deal with complaints more quickly. If appropriate, CCW will help you refer the complaint to OFWAT.

OFWAT can deal with complaints about:

  • the laying of pipes across private land

  • the costs of a connection

  • the requirements made by a water company before connecting a water supply - for example, if you think the deposit you've been asked to pay is unreasonable

  • a water company's refusal to allow you  to have a meter installed

  • a water company's refusal to pay compensation under the OFWAT Guaranteed Standards Scheme.

  • More about OFWAT's Guaranteed Standards Scheme

Taking your complaint further

If you're not happy with the way CCWater or OFWAT has dealt with your complaint, you can ask your MP to refer the matter to the Parliamentary and Health Ombudsman.

In certain cases, if the law has been broken and you are claiming damages from the water company, the claim will go through the courts.

An independent arbitrator may also make a decision about a complaint. An example of when this might happen is if a water company asks you to pay for a meter to be installed and there's a disagreement about the cost or where it should go.

Complaints about water quality and the environment

Not all water issues are dealt with by OFWAT or CCWater.

If your complaint is about water quality, you should contact the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI). For enquiries about private drinking water supplies contact the Environmental Health department of your local authority.

If you have an enquiry about the environment, contact the Environment Agency. The Environment Agency is responsible for maintaining or improving the quality of fresh, marine, surface and underground water.

Next steps

Other useful information


23 Stephenson Street


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Tel: 0300 034 2222 between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday

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You can also contact CCW using their online form.



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Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

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Drinking Water Inspectorate

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Phone: 030 0068 6400

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Environment Agency

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Page last reviewed on 20 February 2020