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Water Suppliers Criticised For Emergency Preparation Failures

Posted: 05/07/2018

After the Beast from the East hit our shores in winter last year, a number of water suppliers have come under fire from industry regulator Ofwat for lacking adequate emergency preparation plans and reacting to events as they took place instead.

The watchdog has just published a new report looking into the impact of the Beast from the East, finding that more than 200,000 customers were left without a water supply for over four hours, while tens of thousands were cut off for days.

While the report did find that some suppliers were properly prepared for the severe weather (which had been forecast), with others this wasn’t the case, which led to significant hardship for customers. For example, there were too many incidences of poor advance planning, a lack of support such as bottled water and inadequate communication with customers.

Common failings were found to be a lack of coordination between suppliers to share resources, limited or inaccurate information on where problems where had occurred and whether or not they had been resolved, and an inconsistent approach to offering support to vulnerable customers. Some companies also didn’t have accurate information on those customers who did need priority assistance.

Rachel Fletcher, Chief Executive of Ofwat, commented: “The freeze and rapid thaw earlier this year was forecast and was not unprecedented. A number of water companies showed what can be done to serve customers in the face of bad weather. But too many companies were caught off guard and let people down, causing real hardship as a result. Our report shows there is no excuse for this level of failure.”

As a result of the review, four water companies – have to submit an externally audited action plan detailing just how they’re tackling the points that have been brought up. If any of them provides the watchdog with an unsatisfactory report, further action will be taken.

Ms Fletcher continued: “We expect every water company to take action on the back of this review and the industry as a whole to transform how it works together in situations like these. Water is an essential service.  Water companies must be prepared for whatever the weather brings.”

Strong winds, blizzards, bitter temperatures and drifting snow over the winter months caused major disruption and destruction around the UK, with red warnings issued by the Met Office as temperatures plunged and inches of snow fell on high ground.

No matter what kind of business you operate, it’s vital that you do have appropriate and operational emergency response plans and procedures in place, so you can handle with any situation, no matter what arises. If your organisation needs to understand the best practice guidelines and a step by step approach perhaps get in with us here at HFR Solutions CIC today to see how we can help make your place of business safer for you, your employees and your customers.