Complaining about your water company
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.
- For more about when you might want to complain to your water company and when you're entitled to compensation, see Claiming compensation from your water company.
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 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.
- To find the local office which deals with your water company, go to CCWater's consumer support website at: www.ccwater.org.uk.
- For a full list of what complaints OFWAT can handle, go to: www.oftwat.gov.uk.
- If you need more help
Other useful information
1st Floor, Victoria Square House
Textphone: 0121 345 1044
Centre City Tower
7 Hill Street
Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman
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
Drinking Water Inspectorate
National Customer Contact Centre
PO Box 544
Customer enquiries: 03708 506 506
Text phone: 03702 422 549
Floodline: 0845 988 1188
Type talk Floodline: 0845 602 6340
Incident hotline: 0800 807060