How we're working during coronavirus

We all rely on water – so during this challenging time we’re focused on making sure we can keep on supplying your essential water and wastewater services. It’s also really important to us to promote the health and well-being of our customers and our people. So we’re closely following government health advice and doing all we can to help our community stay safe.

We’ll need to change how we do certain things for a while, and some activities are taking longer than usual. We’re really grateful for your support. We’ve put together a selection of our most frequently asked questions below that we hope will be useful to you.

Changes to our service

In these challenging times, our teams are focusing on keeping your water flowing and helping customers in vulnerable circumstances. Our call centre is currently unable to take general billing and account enquiries. Please only call us if you need to discuss financial support – we have dedicated agents who’re happy to help you. Thank you for your help and understanding.

Our 24-hour helpline remains open to help customers with urgent issues such as loss of supply or flooding.

As key workers, you’ll still see some of our teams out in your communities continuing essential maintenance and repairs. Be assured that we’re following strict guidelines to stay safe while we keep your water flowing.

Accessing our services online

Instead of calling us, it’s quick and easy to access many of our everyday services online. Please do this to help us remain available on the phone for those most in need.

Sign-up to manage your account online and you’ll have instant, 24-hour access to the following services:

  • Make and manage payments – including setting up a Direct Debit
  • Download copies of your bill
  • Changing your account details
  • Tell us you’re moving home
  • Submit water meter readings

Register now

Taking care of those in vulnerable circumstances

We’re thinking of all our customers who may find themselves in vulnerable circumstances at this difficult time. We know there’s a lot on your mind right now and we’re here to help.

If you’ve been financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak and you’re worried about paying your bill, we want to help. We’re offering eligible customers temporary financial support in addition to our existing services. You can find out more by visiting our help to pay page.

If you’re medically-dependent on water or you have restricted mobility, our teams can give you extra help during situations where you’ve no water supply by delivering water to you. If you’d like to register to receive extra support from us, you can sign up to our priority services register.

If you’re worried about your water supply, or what might happen if your water stopped, you’ll find advice in our frequently asked questions below.

We’ll keep you up to date

We’re regularly updating our website and social media pages – to stay in the loop, you can follow us on Facebook and Twitter or pop back to this page for all the latest information.

You can stay up to date with the latest government health advice on the NHS coronavirus page.

Thank you so much for your patience and understanding as we navigate this uncertain time together. We hope you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

Frequently asked questions

 

Customer health and safety

We’re terribly sorry 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 to all major incidents. 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. There is no evidence that coronavirus has been transmitted through drinking water or through sewerage.

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 always advise customers to always take great care when in close proximity to or handling sewage, whatever the circumstances. We advise wearing gloves and, if possible, other protective clothing when working to clear a drain, for example. The government advises thorough washing following any contact with faecal matter.

We've reviewed our process and made arrangements to safely hand out bottled water. Depending on your location, this could be:

  • Drive-through water stations - our teams will load bottled water into your car, while practising safe distancing measures with each other and our customers

  • Pedestrian water pick-up stations - you can safely collect bottled water while our teams monitor queues to make sure everyone is keeping to a safe distance

When there are supply issues we regularly update our homepage and our social media pages (twitter and facebook) with the most up-to-date information.

You can stay up to date with the latest government health advice regarding social distancing on the NHS coronavirus page.

Our priority services register helps us provide extra help to customers who need it most. This can include delivery of bottled water during ongoing water stoppages.

You can find out more, check your eligibility or register here.

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.

The wellbeing of our customers is very important to us. If you’re very worried about your finances, you can find out ways we’re able to support you on our help to pay page, or to find out if we’re able to provide extra help during ongoing water stoppages, you can find out more about our priority services register or check your eligibility on our priority services page.

The following organisations can also help support you during these difficult times:

  • Citizens Advice – 03444 111 444. For finding help within your community, employment advice and support for victims of crime.
  • Age UK – 0800 678 1602. Specific support and information tailored to older adults, including latest advice about staying safe from COVID-19.
  • StepChange – 0800 138 1111 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm). For independent debt advice.
  • Samaritans - 116 123. Somebody to speak to whatever you’re going through, at any time of the day.
  • Mind – 0300 123 3393. Support if you feel your mental health is being impacted by Covid-19.
  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0808 2000 247. If you need someone to listen or support you or provide information on your options and rights, open 24 hours.
 

Billing

We’re aware that some customers have had to make significant life changes because of the coronavirus. We’re sorry if you’ve been impacted in this way.

Even if the pandemic has caused you to move out of your home, and it’s now empty, it will still be connected to our water and waste network and you’ll be billed as normal. This includes rented properties if your name is still on the lease. If you have a water meter, you only pay for what you use so you’ll see a reduction in your charges if your home is vacant.

If you’re struggling to pay your bill, we have several ways to help, including temporarily postponing your payments.

If you’ve permanently vacated a rental property, please let us know, so we can close your account.

The government has stressed the importance of high standards of cleanliness, and careful hand washing is one of the best things we can do to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Good news – washing your hands only uses a relatively small amount of water, so you shouldn’t see your bills rise because of it.

But we’re aware you might be at home all day right now, which means you’re likely to use more water than usual. If you’re worried about the impact this could have on your bills, why not check out our useful tips on ways to use less water around the home.

If you’ve been significantly financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak – we’re here to help. We’re offering eligible customers temporary financial support. You can find out more by visiting our help to pay page.

You may be entitled to further assistance from your local authority or the government. You can use this simple benefits calculator to see what other help you could receive.

We’re closely following government health advice and doing all we can to help our people and community stay safe. So we’ve now paused non-essential home visits, including meter reading.

If you have a smart meter, nothing will change for you – your readings are sent automatically. If you have an analogue meter, and it’s located somewhere you can safely access, you can submit your own readings online. You’ll find more advice on how to take and submit your readings here.

If you can’t submit a meter reading, don’t worry – we’ll work out your bills using an estimate based on your usage history. As soon as we can visit you to take a meter reading, we’ll adjust your bill.

You’ll continue to receive bills according to your pre-agreed schedule, and if you’ve got a Direct Debit, this will remain in place but with small changes to the payment amounts, if necessary.

We’re always here to support our customers who may be struggling to pay their bills. Now more than ever, we’re committed to providing options for customers who are worried about the cost of their bills, particularly in this uncertain time of the coronavirus outbreak.

If you’ve been significantly financially impacted by the coronavirus outbreak – we’re here to help. We’re offering eligible customers temporary financial support. You can find out more by visiting our help to pay page.

We understand that you may struggle to keep up with your payments if you prefer to pay at a Post Office, at a bank or with a PayPoint card at an outlet that has closed. Or if you’re self-isolating or unwell. We do have a range of other payment options to help you make your payment, such as paying on our website or making a bank transfer. You can find out more at thameswater.co.uk/pay.

If you’re especially worried about outstanding charges on your account, please get in touch.

 

Operations and services

The combination of warm weather and more people staying at home can mean very high demand for water in some areas.

We’re treating and supplying as much water as we can, and we’re also working hard to promote the simple steps everyone can take to help make sure there’s enough to go round for everyone.

If your water pressure’s too low, you should check for any problems with the plumbing in your property, such as a leak or partially closed stop tap.

Water pressure tends to vary throughout the day, but if yours is consistently weak and you’re confident you don’t have any leaks, please see more advice and details of how we can help.

Our staff have been classified as key workers so we can continue to provide you with your water and wastewater services. This means our 24-hour helpline is still open to help you manage essential enquiries.

However, our billing call centre is currently only able to answer calls from customers who are struggling to pay their bills and need extra support, or those without internet access.

If you need to pay your bill, submit a meter reading or update your contact details, please register for an online account.

We’re following government guidelines to make sure our people stay safe. Wherever possible, teams are working from home. We’re really sorry if this means you hear some background noise from agents’ homes – please bear with us while we focus on resolving your issue and giving you the best possible service during this challenging time.

The health and safety of our customers and employees is really important to us, and we’re closely following the most up-to-date government guidelines around social distancing. We’ve paused all non-essential visits to customers’ homes, and we’re no longer carrying out any type of home appointments or repairs relating to:

  • Meter readings and installations
  • Investigations because of a high bill
  • Water leakage or water pressure investigations
  • Water disconnections and water reconnections
  • Any non-emergency outside stop valve works

If you’re very worried about being able to afford your bill, you can visit our dedicated help paying page.

If you had an appointment booked, you’ll be notified that this won’t be going ahead. We’re making sure to keep our teams and customers safe in line with government advice regarding social distancing.

You’ll be able to rearrange your appointments for a future date, and we’ll give you more information as soon as we have it available. We’re sorry for any inconvenience this causes you and thank you for your understanding during these challenging times.

We operate an essential water and wastewater service for 15 million customers that’s vital to public health, which means we’ve been identified as key workers by the government. We’re staying on top of routine repairs or maintenance on our network to prevent the risk of more serious issues such as burst pipes and blockages. In doing so, we’re also helping to prevent greater interruptions to our customers’ supplies, including supplies to hospitals and emergency services.

As we’re continuing some of our planned maintenance and repairs, you may still see us on your streets or in your communities. We’d like to reassure you we’re following official health advice, and we’re keeping all our work under review to make sure we can continue operating safely.

Some of our essential works will unavoidably require our engineers to work in close proximity of one another. However, our teams will only do this when completely necessary and will always follow the latest government guidance. We have strict plans in place to help keep our people safe, and we ask anyone to self-isolate if they have symptoms. The safety and wellbeing of our staff and customers is of utmost importance to us as we continue to deliver our essential service for you.

We’re continuously looking at the impact of coronavirus on our business, but our people have been identified as key workers and have an important role to play delivering essential water and wastewater services. We’ve adapted and made some changes, including home working and the training and redeployment of staff where required, but we firmly believe we need every hand on deck during these challenging times. That’s why we have no plans to furlough any employees. Our priority is to continue the delivery of our crucial service to customers while ensuring the safety, wellbeing and continuous employment of all staff.

We’ve created specific, comprehensive plans to make sure we can continue to deliver essential water and wastewater services during challenging periods, including pandemics.

We also have several reservoirs, 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.

While we’d never advise using anything but toilet paper, we understand that stock shortages may mean you need to find alternatives for the moment.

But please remember that things like wet wipes, kitchen roll, sanitary products, and cotton pads can’t go down the loo and will need to thrown in the bin then disposed of safely. Any of these items can cause blockages if you flush them – and a backed-up toilet is the last thing you need at this challenging time.

The only things that should be flushed, at any time, are the 3 Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper. You can read more about what can and can’t go down the loo.