Loss of supply

Keeping the water flowing 24/7

When you turn on your tap you expect the water flow. You can rely on this to happen almost all the time but for various reasons your supply can be interrupted.

14 Average minutes lost per property per year

Results based on loss of supply events over 3 hours or longer

Source: Water UK; England and Wales, Apr 2015 - Mar 2016

Click for company comparison Close Panel

Although most interruptions are dealt with quickly, there are some that are more difficult to resolve. This can unfortunately mean customers have to wait longer for their water to come back on.


How can companies be compared?

There are different ways to compare the performance of companies on loss of supply.


Comparing how each company is doing against its target
All companies have targets for how customers are affected by loss of their supply – are they meeting, beating or failing them?


Comparing companies against each other
The targets for companies aren’t all the same, so to compare them against each other you need to use a standard measure.
The standard measure is interruptions that last for 3 hours or more. This is calculated by dividing the total length of interruptions lasting for 3 hours or more by the number of properties supplied by the company to give an average figure in minutes – the lower the better.


Why might performance vary?

Leaking or burst pipes are a major reason why water supply may be interrupted, and pipes could burst at any time. Hot and dry or freezing cold weather can make the ground expand or contract around water mains pipes, making them more likely to burst.
In some cases it can take a long time to repair or replace the pipe because they are in built up areas and are difficult to get to. 
Sometimes it can also take time to find the exact part of the pipe which is broken as it is deep underground. If a big pipe bursts and takes a long time to repair, it can make a big difference to a company’s overall performance.

Average minutes lost due to supply interruptions (per total properties served) against company targets

The graph shows whether companies have met their targets in the latest year. The targets are in minutes – if the actual loss of supply is less than the target, the company has beaten the target and has done better than their commitment on this part of their service to customers. The figures in this graph are presented as minutes:seconds.


Why aren’t there targets on the graph for some companies?

Each company has agreed a target with its customers and Ofwat, the regulator. Most companies have a target based on interruptions of more than 3 hours or interruptions of 3 hours or more - but some are different. Affinity Water has a target based on the number of properties interrupted, rather than how long an interruption was – as it isn’t comparable to the targets for other companies, it isn’t shown on the graph. 

      Average minutes lost due to supply interruptions (per total properties served) against company targets

      Source: Water UK & CCWater

      Average minutes lost due to supply interruptions (per total properties served)

      This graph compares companies against each other for supply interruptions of 3 hours or more for the latest year. The figures in this graph are presented as minutes:seconds.


      Why are there two bars for some companies?

      Each company has agreed a way to measure loss of supply with its customers and Ofwat, the regulator.

      Most companies measure either all interruptions of more than 3 hours or all interruptions of 3 hours or more - but some are different. For these companies both all interruptions of 3 hours or more and the company’s way is shown.

      Thames Water measures interruptions greater than four hours. Bristol Water measures interruptions of any duration, but only interruptions that were unplanned.

          Average minutes lost due to supply interruptions (per total properties served). Industry average is for interruptions longer than 3 hours.

          Source: Water UK & CCWater

          Average minutes lost due to supply interruptions of three hours or more (per total properties served)

          This graph compares companies against each other for the standard measure of loss of supply interruptions of three hours or more for the last three years.

              Average minutes lost due to supply interruptions of three hours or more (per total properties served)

              Source: Water UK & CCWater

              44,468

              Number of pipe (mains) bursts

              A burst pipe is the most common cause of loss of water supply

              Source: Water UK; England and Wales, Apr 2015 - Mar 2016

              Click for company comparison Close Panel

              Why might performance vary?

              Pipes can burst for many reasons, which can vary over time and between different regions. Hot and dry or freezing cold weather leads to the ground expanding or contracting around water pipes, resulting in bursts. Older pipes will tend to burst more, and soil conditions can lead to some pipe materials being eaten away.

              In cities and towns, heavy traffic compresses the soil around the pipe and this can damage the pipe.

              Number of pipe bursts in company pipe network (per 1,000 kilometre of pipe)

              As companies are different sizes, some have more pipes than others. The graph shows how many times each company’s pipes burst for every 1,000km of pipe for the latest year.

                  Number of pipe bursts in company pipe network (per 1,000 kilometre of pipe)

                  Source: Water UK

                  Number of pipe bursts in company pipe network (per 1,000 kilometre of pipe)

                  As companies are different sizes, some have more pipes than others. The graph shows how many times each company’s pipes burst for every 1,000 km of pipe for the last three years.

                      Number of pipe bursts in company pipe network (per 1,000 kilometre of pipe)

                      Source: Water UK

                      • If your water supply fails, contact your water company as they should be able to tell you:

                        • the reason your supply has been interrupted or cut off, for example for emergency works
                        • where to get an alternate supply
                        • the time by when you should expect the supply to be restored - although, this can sometimes be hard to predict for unexpected failures

                        For planned interruptions of longer than four hours, water companies should normally give their customers 48 hours notice. 

                        In drought conditions, the water companies may ban hosepipes or other high water uses to protect the water supply from failure.

                      No water at your tap?

                      Please contact your local water company. Don’t know who your supplier is? Find out here

                      Your browser is out of date!

                      Please update your browser to view this website correctly.