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Complaining about your water company

This advice applies to 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 (CCWater)

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 CCWater. CCWater is an independent consumer organisation which deals with complaints about water companies.

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

CCWater 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.

CCWater 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 CCWater can't settle your complaint - Water Redress Scheme (WATRS)

You can use the Water Redress Scheme (WATRS), to try to get your complaint resolved. 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 only use the WATRS if you've already done both of the following:

  • followed your water company's complaints procedure
  • complained to CCWater.

You can submit a case online on the WATRS website and should use the guidance notes provided to help you complete the form.

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

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 CCWater first as they will normally be able to deal with complaints more quickly. If appropriate, CCWater 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

CCWater

1st Floor, Victoria Square House
Victoria Square
Birmingham
B2 4AJ

Tel: 0300 034 3333 between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday
Textphone: 0121 345 1044
Email: enquiries@ccwater.org.uk
Website: www.ccwater.org.uk

OFWAT

Centre City Tower
7 Hill Street
Birmingham
B5 4UA

Tel: 0121 644 7500
Fax: 0121 644 7559
Textphone: 0121 625 1422
Email: mailbox@ofwat.gsi.gov.uk
Website: www.ofwat.gov.uk

Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman

Millbank Tower
Millbank
London
SW1P 4QP

Enquiry helpline: 0845 015 4033
Service to request a ring back: Text ‘callback’ with your name and mobile number to 07624 813 005
Textphone: 0300 061 4298
Website: www.ombudsman.org.uk
Email: opca.enquiries@ombudsman.gsi.gov.uk

Drinking Water Inspectorate

Area 4a
Ergon House
Horseferry Road
London
SW1P 2AL

Phone: 030 0068 6400
Fax: 030 0068 6401
Website: www.dwi.gov.uk
Email: dwi.enquiries@defra.gsi.gov.uk

Environment Agency

National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
Rotherham
S60 1BY

Customer enquiries: 03708 506 506
Text phone: 03702 422 549
Floodline: 0845 988 1188
Type talk Floodline: 0845 602 6340
Incident hotline: 0800 807060
Website: www.environment-agency.gov.uk
Email: enquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk

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