The safety and wellbeing of our staff and our customers is of utmost importance to us. Now that certain lockdown restrictions are being lifted, we are starting to resume work that can be carried out in a safe way, in line with the Government's latest advice.
Concerned about Coronavirus?
Coronavirus update - a message to our customers
At this difficult time for everyone, we know that you, our customers and communities, are relying on us for the continued supply of high-quality drinking water. Indeed, our number one priority will always be the health of our workforce and our customers. I want to reassure you that we responded quickly to put our contingency plans into action back in February and now as some lockdown measures continue to be lifted we will monitor the situation and fully adhere to the Government’s advice. Like others across the water industry, our people are classed as key workers and we will be here 24/7, treating and distributing millions of litres to homes, schools, hospitals and businesses every single day.
You may still need to speak with us of course and we will be here for that too but we need to prioritise supply emergencies and helping those in vulnerable circumstances. Our website is the best way to contact us with other enquiries. I know some people will be concerned about paying their water bill. Rest assured that we already have financial support available to those that need it and have put more measures in place now too - have a look below at the ways we can help.
Lastly, I want to thank my colleagues at SES Water and our supply chain for their unwavering professionalism, commitment and flexibility during uncertain times - their extraordinary resilience means no one needs to worry about their water supply and we will continue to work tirelessly over the coming weeks and months to ensure this will always be the case.
Ian Cain, Chief Executive Officer at SES Water
Here for you
As a critical essential service provider, we will continue to do our very best to ensure your water service continues, but we have fewer people than normal in our contact centres answering the phones. That’s why we are prioritising urgent issues over the phone such as being unable to pay your bill, no water or a poor supply, a concern regarding the taste, smell or appearance of your water, a leak that is causing damage to either yours or your neighbour's property or there is another risk to health, safety or the environment.
We need to focus our efforts on the people who really need us right now. We’re encouraging you to use our website to do the following very quickly and easily:
You can also register for email or text message updates to stay up-to-date on our response to coronavirus.
Helping us all stay safe
The health and safety of our employees is really important to us, and we’re asking for your help and support to protect them as well as you and your families.
We are only carrying out emergency work in customers' homes and we hope you understand that we are also checking as we arrange and before we actually visit your home whether anybody in the home is ill or in self-isolation. We will also be carrying out additional hygiene measures, including wearing protective clothing, in line with the Government's advice.
If we should call at your home to deal with an emergency and you’re unwell, please let our teams know immediately so that we can take the necessary precautions to keep you and our teams safe.
Facing financial hardship
If you're having difficulty paying your bill at the moment, the sooner you let us know the better. We can't cancel it, but we can help. We have introduced a 'payment holiday' which means you pay nothing for three months and after that you are automatically enrolled for nine months onto our Water Support Scheme which provides a 50% discount on your bill. We've made it really easy to apply and you don't need to provide lots of information.
If you or any of your family and friends have particular health issues and haven’t yet registered for Priority Services, please let us know. Being on the register means we are able to offer you a range of extra services to support you. If you know of someone who isn’t online then you can register them on their behalf.
Thank you for your understanding and co-operation and please continue to follow NHS advice www.nhs.uk/coronavirus.
Frequently asked questions
The government has stressed the importance of high standards of cleanliness, including frequent, careful hand washing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This might mean you’re using more water than usual over the coming weeks or months, but washing your hands only requires a relatively small amount of water, so you shouldn’t see a significant increase in your bills.
We’re really sorry if your supply’s been disrupted at such a difficult time. We’re working as quickly as we can to restore normal service for you. You can check our homepage for updates on all major incidents, including the availability of bottled water. The NHS advise that soap and water is the best way to keep your hands protected, but if you have some available, you can use alcoholic hand sanitiser as an alternative when hand washing isn’t possible.
The World Health Organisation has said coronavirus (COVID-19) can’t survive in disinfected drinking water and hasn’t been transmitted in this way.
We test our treated water regularly to check its quality, and all our staff follow governmental guidance, and our own high standards, for personal hygiene and health and safety.
We’re very sorry your supply’s been disrupted. We’re working as quickly as we can to restore normal service for you. You can check our homepage for updates to all major incidents.
We want to get water to as many customers as we can at this difficult time but we’ll need to prioritise those with water-dependent medical conditions. Please get in touch to let us know your situation.
If you need water urgently, it might be best to ask a family member, friend or neighbour to drop off some supplies for you.
We’re not seeing a surge in demand due to hand-washing and our systems are designed to cope with increases in water usage. However, demand is currently higher than normal because of the warm weather and more people being at home.
We’ve created specific, comprehensive plans to make sure we can continue to deliver essential water services during challenging periods, including pandemics.
We also have several water treatment stations, where we store clean treated water, to provide resilience for our supplies and make sure we can maintain a continuous supply of safe drinking water.
We would like to reassure you the make-up of our water has not changed. The quality of our water is paramount to us and it’s a regulation that we continue to test and maintain it.
If you suspect contact with water is causing skin irritation it is advisable that you contact your GP. It is more likely that exposure to allergens from other sources would cause irritation to the skin such as soap or detergents. This could be especially likely at a time when we are all using more hygiene products.
However, a small number of people are sensitive to certain metals that can be picked up in water. For example, high nickel content can cause skin irritation. If you have had any recently installed plumbing this could cause the issue. It is however the homeowner's responsibility to have this investigated.
The levels of chlorine in our water supply have not changed and are not harmful to your health in any way.
However, you may be able to detect more chlorine in your water than usual due to a few factors:
Chlorine prefers to be a gas rather than dissolved in water. Due to the recent increase in demand with more people at home and the nice weather, the water is taking less time to get to your taps from our treatment works so there has been less opportunity for the chlorine to 'escape' than normal
Some of our customers may be receiving their water supply from a different treatment works than normal because Gatwick Airport isn’t using as much. Different treatment works use different levels of chlorine depending on the type of raw water they are treating, for example Bough Beech reservoir in Kent is fed from a river so needs more than Elmer in Leatherhead which treats water from under the ground.
Chlorine is much better at escaping from warm water. Water will warm up in this weather while it sits in supply pipes, for example overnight. This means chlorine will be more noticeable when first used in the day as it’s escaping into the air rather than staying in the water
To help reduce the taste or smell of chlorine you may want to try fully flushing your taps to bring cooler water in or keeping water from a mains fed kitchen tap in a fridge to cool down. Water should only be kept for a maximum of 24 hours and any jug should be emptied and re-filled after each 24 hour period. Any unused or flushed water need not be wasted and instead could be used for watering house plants or outside in the garden. There is more information on the water in your home web page.
In response to the Government’s recent briefing to ease the lockdown, Water UK has provided guidance to businesses that have been closed or running on reduced staff about their water supply.
Below is a summary of the Water UK advice for unoccupied buildings, where water has not been in use for many weeks which may now be subject to stagnation:
- Run all taps to flush water through
- Remove aeration devices e.g. shower heads, before flushing
- Follow manufacturers' advice for all appliances – including internal filters or water softeners
- Make sure plumbers are approved under the WaterSafe scheme