Keeping Water Flowing
How we’re adapting to the Coronavirus outbreak
How we're responding to the challenges of the ongoing coronavirus situation.
Our key workers are still out and about
You’ll still see some of our key worker teams out and about carrying out essential tasks to keep the water flowing and waste water taken away for homes, businesses, hospitals and schools across our region.
We’ve also adapted the way we carry out many of our essential tasks to keep our customers and our teams safe. We’re rigorously adopting all the good hygiene guidelines and following social distancing rules and would ask you to do the same if you see us – we really are there for a good reason.
We’ll only be out working on jobs including:
- Clearing sewer blockages and pollutions – we’re clearing more sewer blockages than usual, often caused by kitchen roll and wipes. They don’t break down like toilet paper does so please don’t flush them. Bag and bin them instead.
- Fixing and replacing burst or leaking pipes – if a pipe bursts or leaks it can interrupt the supply of water to several properties, so we’re still finding and fixing these quickly and continuing to replace pipes that need replacing.
- Work on our treatment works – our water and waste treatment teams are working round-the-clock to make sure everyone has water and we can treat waste water.
- Resolving pressure issues – poor water pressure is frustrating, so we’ll continue to support customers with these issues
Occasionally we need to visit you at home to carry out work. We’ve changed some of our processes to protect you and our teams. We will only visit your home if it essential. If we do need to visit you, we’ll ask a few questions to check that everybody in the home is well before we come in.
If you already had an appointment booked before the government guidance and instruction came into force, we’ll contact you to cancel or rearrange the visit for another date in the future.
Contact centres are still open
Some of our teams in the contact centres are still in the buildings, but we've made sure anybody who can work from home is, clearing room for those customer care teams to safely spread out and maintain social distancing in the offices while they're answering your calls and questions.
Around 3,000 team members are working from home right now to keep themselves, their households and everyone else safe.
Help through the Priority Services Register
We’d encourage anyone who’s vulnerable in any way, whether you live with a disability, have mobility issues, or a chronic illness or a medical condition, to join our Priority Service Register.
That way, if you experience an issue with your water, we’ll be able to give you all the support you need.
Financial support options
There are various ways we can help you if you're finding it difficult to pay your bills, including:
- The Severn Trent Trust Fund
- The Big Difference Scheme
- Payment plans
These support options have been helping thousands of customers for many years, but they’re especially important at times like these.
Supporting our communities
In addition to helping our customers directly, we're also giving £1m to charities and community projects at the forefront of the region's coronavirus response.
Bag and bin loo roll alternatives
If you do find yourself without loo paper and need to use an alternative, please make sure you dispose of it properly by bagging it and binning it.
Things like kitchen roll and wipes don’t breakdown like toilet paper does and can lead to a nasty blockage causing sewage to back up into your home.
We’re planning to carefully reopen our visitor sites through the Spring
In March we closed our visitor sites to help limit the spread of Coronavirus COVID-19.
We hope to have all visitor sites open again in early June, but we’ll monitor the situation and only reopen sites when it’s safe to do so.
Protecting your health and safety
What to do if you think your health and safety is at risk.
Washing your hands is one of the most effective ways you can protect yourself and others against the Coronavirus, so if you have a supply interruption during the outbreak it will of course be more concerning than usual.
If your water has stopped or you have low pressure, it could be related to essential work going on in your area.
We’ll work as hard as we can to get your supply back to normal as soon as possible or provide alternative supplies of water where necessary.
If you are unable to use water to wash your hands, alcohol-based hand sanitiser is an effective alternative.
Alternative water supplies
If your water supply will be affected for a prolonged period, or you need a constant supply of water for medical reasons, we’ll be able to support you with a temporary, alternative water supply.
Depending on your location and your circumstances, an alternative supply could be provided by:
- Drive-through water stations – if you have a vehicle, you can drive to one of these stations and our team will load bottled water into your vehicle, while following social distancing guidance to avoid contact with you and each other
- Pedestrian water pick-up stations – if you’re able to, you can collect bottled water from our pedestrian stations. We’ll make sure social distancing guidance is followed by checking queues and ensuring each person maintains a safe space between themselves
- Bottled water drops – if you have Coronavirus and are unable to get to a pick-up station, please let us know. Our team will provide bottle water to your home, being sure to follow all social distancing guidance
Join our Priority Services Register
If you or somebody in your household has any kind of additional need that would require our support, especially if that means you need a constant water supply, please join our Priority Service Register so we can make sure we provide you with tailored support to help you when you need it.
The World Health Organisation has said coronavirus (COVID-19) can’t survive in disinfected drinking water.
There is no evidence that coronavirus has been transmitted through drinking water or through sewerage.
In the United Kingdom we have some of the highest standards of water quality and safety in the world.
We clean, disinfect and test your drinking water thoroughly, to make sure it’s safe to use, before it leaves our treatment sites and ends up at your taps.
Using toilet paper alternatives like kitchen roll or wet wipes can cause blockages in sewers and domestic pipes, because they don’t break down like loo roll does.
We know loo roll has been in short supply and you may have not other option but, please, if you do need to use alternatives to toilet paper, do not flush it. Put it in a bag, like a nappy sack or doggy bag, then place the bag in a bin.
This will help to protect you and your neighbours from blocked drains and possible sewer flooding, and it’ll help protect our teams from having to unblock public drains.
If your private drains do get blocked, please take precautions to keep yourself safe as you’ll likely come into contact with used toilet paper and sewerage.
Make sure you wear gloves and other protective clothing if you need to clear a private drain, and wash thoroughly after you have any contact with faecal matter.
We can provide help and support through our financial support schemes and the Priority Services Register, but there are other organisations who can give you invaluable assistance at this time.
Available across the UK, Citizens Advice are able to provide help, support and advice about a wide variety of situations and circumstances, including support your community, employment advice and help for victims of crime.
The nation’s leading charity supporting older people, Age UK can offer support tailored specifically for older people, advising how they can stay safe from COVID-19.
A nationwide charity offering support for you if you’re in debt or your income has been reduced, StepChange can provide free, impartial advice.
This is a worrying time and we all need somebody to talk to so we can get a better understanding of what is happening and how it affects us.
It’s normal to feel alone, especially if you’re isolating at home with nobody else in your household.
You can contact Samaritans to speak to somebody about whatever you’re going through, 24 hours a day.
One of the UK leading mental health charities, Mind can provide support if you feel your mental health is being affected by COVID-19.
National Domestic Abuse Helpline
Self-isolating at home may keep us safe from the virus but being trapped at home with an abusive partner is dangerous too.If you or members of your household are victims of domestic abuse, contact the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for advice and support.
How Coronavirus might affect your bills
Coronavirus has changed how we each use water at home, how we measure that use and how you can pay for your water.
One of the most effective ways of protecting yourself, your household and others from the virus is to wash your hands.
With government instructing people to stay at home, it's likely your water use will go up slightly as a result of the increase in general use and washing your hands regularly.
If you're on a meter you might worry that this could increase your bill significantly. The good news is that washing your hands only uses a relatively small amount of water, so your bill shouldn't go up as a result.
There are some great ways you can save water at home however, so if you'd like to do all you can to reduce your water use at this time, check out our top tips for saving water.
In light of the government guidance on social distancing and essential work, we’ve temporarily stopped reading internal water meters.
Scaling back this part of our work means we’re able to keep our teams and you safer by reducing the chances of social contact.
If you have an internal water meter you can submit your meter readings online.If you can’t submit a meter reading, don’t worry. We’ll work out your bill for this period using an estimate based on your usage history.
Your bill will be adjusted using an accurate meter reading as soon as possible after we’re able to start reading internal meters again.
We’ll carry on sending bills in line with your current billing schedule and payment plan.
If you pay by Direct Debit, your regular payment will continue as normal. We might be able to adjust the amounts if your circumstances have changed and you need to change your payments. Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss your Direct Debit options.
If you usually pay in person at a Post Office, bank or PayPoint store, we know it will now be harder for you to make payments as normal if businesses providing those services near you have closed, you're self-isolating, shielding, or unwell.
- by post
- by phone
- by Direct Debit
- through Barclays PingIt
How Coronavirus is affecting our day-to-day work
We’ve got robust plans to protect you and our teams during the Coronvirus outbreak. Part of those plans mean we’ve had to scale back or stop some less essential work.
While you might expect that with everyone staying at home, demand for water would increase, it seems like it’s currently balanced out due to so many offices and places of employment being closed.
Our water levels and supply are normal, and our systems are designed to cope with any potential increase in demand.
We’ve got comprehensive plans in place to deal with widespread illness among our teams.
We look after one of life’s essentials and part of our responsibility for doing that means we have plans and processes already prepared for events like this, so we’re able to quickly adapt and continue doing what we do despite the situation.
We’ve put measures in place to make sure the risk of infection is minimised, and we continue to be able to supply you with clean, safe drinking water and treat your waste water as normal.
These plans include:
- Thousands of our people working from home
- Anybody with any symptoms to self-isolate and stay away from work
- Social distancing procedures and additional hygiene processes in place with teams in offices and in the field
- Teams in offices spread out and split across floors to reduce risk of infection spreading through a team if one person becomes ill
- Reducing and tightly controlling the amount of team members able to access treatment and production facilities
- Storing clean, treated drinking water at locations across our network
We provide one of life’s essentials to the 8 million people in our region. Homes, schools, hospitals and other critical facilities are relying on us to ensure taps flow and toilets flush.
It’s essential that our work continues, but we are of course making adjustments to protect the safety of our teams and our customers.
It’s a challenging time for everyone, and our teams have been fantastic at adapting to new ways of working.
We’re ensuring that we provide them with all the support and Personal Protective Equipment they need, and that we’re keeping everyone safe.
Some tasks require us to work close to each other – for example carrying specialist equipment or working in trenches – so we’ve put extra precautions in place for these teams.
We’ll only do work like that when it’s absolutely necessary and our teams will follow the latest government advice at all times.