When water stops flowing

This time last year we were bitten by the Beast from the East. This year we’ve just endured another very cold spell and there may well be more to come before the winter is over.

Now for some, the snow brings with it a lot of fun and an exciting change. For businesses that’s less so, unless of course you’re involved in sledges or de-icer! Snow days, travel issues, lost productivity, it can all cost.

But there is another lurking danger to businesses that’s all too often overlooked, until it’s too late.

That’s a total loss of water to your business because of a burst pipe, which frequently happens when the pipes initially freeze or as they thaw. And it can stop any business in its tracks.

In the last year thousands of businesses across England were impacted by water supply interruptions at their sites, and the Beast from the East was a significant villain in this.

The ‘freeze-thaw’ in February and early March 2018 left over 200,000 people in England and Wales without water for over 4 hours and tens of thousands were left off supply for days, an official report from Ofwat showed.

If a water supply is a critical part of your business and a burst pipe means you have no water, production stops and profits can start to take a hit. A brewery, bakery or restaurant, for example. With no water flowing, your business is going to suffer very quickly.

Even if you just use water for tea and toilets, if your team at work has no water, they can’t stay there for too long.

When something can be a potential threat to your business it naturally makes sense to plan for it. But it’s surprising how many don’t.

We ran an independent survey through YouGov to look into how businesses plan for having no water. It revealed that nearly half of British businesses (48%) don’t have a plan in place for dealing with a major water supply interruption, despite relying on mains water, provided through the water wholesalers’ networks.

Without a plan it’s the manufacturing and the hospitality NS Leisure sector that fear they would be hardest hit with 35% and 44% respectively expressing serious concerns about water downtime. 

So, what should you be thinking about when it comes to suffering a complete loss of water.

  1. How reliant is your company on its mains water supply for your production and have you considered how a water pressure drop on your supply may affect your site?
  2. Would staff be able to continue working in the event of a disruption of mains water supply?
  3. What would be the financial impact of a mains water supply disruption for your business for a day or several days?
  4. What would be the impact on your relationship with your customers if your supplies reduced significantly?
  5. Do you have a contingency plan in place to cope with a disruption of mains water supply?
  6. How much water do you use each day and how much would you need in the event of a water issue?


As with any other area of your business, being prepared can make all the difference and that’s where our water expertise comes into play. Make sure you have appropriate contingency plans in place, and that your staff know what to do.  

It’s the responsibility of the wholesaler for your area to provide a continuous supply of good quality water to business customers. They have target timescales to restore mains water, however they work on a best endeavours basis and priority is given to domestic users and sensitive sites such as hospitals, care homes and prisons. 

You can find out more about contingency planning for your business on our websiteOn the website page you can find out more about taking steps to be prepared for unexpected water supply interruptions as well as our contingency planning service, leak detection and repair service and explore more around emergency water deliveries for your business. But even with the best made plans, a significant water outage could have a financial impact on your business, so business interruption insurance that can help to cover you for these scenarios is also worth exploring.

So, while we hope it will never happen to your business, it’s best to plan ahead so you’re not left high and dry.

You can find out more about the steps to take if you have no water at your site here.

**Figures quoted on freeze/thaw in 2018 are from an Ofwat report published on 19th June 2018.
About the YouGov survey
YouGov independent research, commissioned by Water Plus, sampled: 1,109GB B2B senior decision makers. The survey was carried out online between 5 - 12 June 2017. The figures have been weighted and are representative of British business size.
 

 

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