Spare a thought for water on your farmland

country side and blue sky with tractor in field

Often it’s everyday things that we take for granted and are easiest to overlook. We know water can easily fall into this category, especially when you have a busy farm to run. But when your business is in the sector that’s the second largest user of water in the UK - and it’s a critical daily necessity - it’s always worth pausing to give water another thought.

In April 2017, for farmers, as for all businesses, the way you pay for the water you use and your wastewater services changed.

The ‘traditional’ water companies are still responsible for getting clean water to farms and taking away wastewater. They’re now referred to as wholesalers. What has changed though is that you pay for this water and wastewater through a water retailer, like us. Retailers do the billing, take meter readings and provide support with customer service.

Water pipes on your land

One thing that hasn’t changed in England and Scotland is who’s responsible for the water pipes. Once inside a farm’s boundary the water pipes, above and below ground, there, maintanence and repair arrangements, is down to the farmer.

It’s important to keep this in mind because a farmer is responsible for the cost of all the water delivered to their site – even if it’s lost in a leak. And sometimes these can be underground and out of sight.

On a busy working farm it’s easy to put leaking pipes and equipment aside for another day but the cost of these drips can soon add up.

There’s some simple things you can do which don’t take up much time, can reduce the amount of water you use - or might be losing - and can make a real difference to the size of your water bill.

Steps farmers can take to check for leaks and reduce water waste

  • Regularly check pipes, looking out for leaks or drips. Keep an eye out for unusually damp or lush ground, or reduced vegetation growth which could indicate a leak elsewhere.
  • If ball-valves are not set correctly or are damaged then water troughs can overflow, wasting hundreds of litres of water.
  • Make sure washers are replaced and overflows are fixed and look out for dripping taps and hosepipes so they can be fixed straightaway to stop water being wasted.
  • Keep an eye on your water meter and take regular readings so you can see if consumption is going up unexpectedly. The important digits for readings are the black and white digits, as these show the full cubic meters of water you’ve used.
  • Have a think about how you use water and how you use mains water on your land. Do you always need to use drinking quality water? For example, what water are you using to wash down the yard?
  • Make sure water pipes are buried underground to the correct level and pipes in roof areas are insulated. It helps protect them from accidental damage and low temperatures, as well as reducing the risk of a burst pipe underground – or above ground.

If you suspect you have a hidden leak on your land then we have some tips on how to carry out your own checks.

Remember, you can submit meter readings through our online My Account service where you can also access your bills - and print or download copies - at times that suit you. Register for My Account today.

How we can help when you think you have a leak at your site

We have a leak detection and repair service to help find where leaks may be. There is a charge for this service but in the last year alone our team saved business sites just over £2million on water that would otherwise have been wasted. Our Advanced Services team can let you know more about our services and you can get in touch with them at

You may also want to explore the option of a data logger on your water meter or all your water meters, if you have multiple sites.

These provide a flow reading and data loggers across a number of sites are a good way to track consumption levels, to see where and when water is being used and potential areas for savings. Email our team at to ask about this option. Please note, there is a charge for providing and installing data loggers, but if used correctly the savings you can make should easily cover the cost.

If you'd like more information, visit our dedicated Farmers section.

**The saving figure in this blog is an estimated annual cost if the leak at the business had not been repaired or isolated. Figures are for leaks the Advanced Services team at Water Plus was contacted about between 2 November 2017 and 16 October 2018. 

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