Water is critical everyday but even more so at the moment. As I’m sure you will appreciate our frontline teams are recognised as essential workers and we are also supporting them and their families while they work 24/7 to keep water supplies flowing. We are working to a set of simple priorities to help us keep our services running.
1. Providing the maximum assistance to our vulnerable customers
I know you’ll be worried about the health and wellbeing of your loved ones and that some of your circumstances may have changed drastically and unexpectedly.
We're here to help if you're struggling to pay your bill and have made some big changes to make our processes easier. We are offering payment breaks and automatic renewal for our Essentials (social tariff) and Watersure (capped tariff) and we’ve introduced a new easy to use Watersure application process. You can find out more here southernwater.co.uk/account/help-paying-your-bill. You will also find lots of useful information on our website here southernwater.co.uk/covid-19.
To make things a bit easier during this time we’ve also changed our priority services register, so you can now apply on behalf of vulnerable friends and relatives. This is particularly important for those customers who are currently shielded – so if you think someone you know should be added you can head to our website for more details southernwater.co.uk/register-for-individual-needs.
Supporting our communities
We’re launching our community grants scheme to support our most needy charities. Information will be published on our website over the next couple of weeks, we’ve also donated £45,000 to local community foundations and foodbanks.
We’re working with Age UK and the Alzheimer’s Society to use our volunteering capacity to make phone calls and reach out to those who are isolated or vulnerable. Sometimes just having a chat can make a big difference to someone’s day. We’re also reaching out to other partners to see what help we can offer to help our communities.
2. Maintaining essential service and public health
I’d like to reassure you that you should use your water as normal.
The Drinking Water Inspectorate’s statement, which can be read in full at dwi.gov.uk, is as follows: “in the UK, drinking water supplies are routinely disinfected as part of the treatment process, and this process removes all harmful pathogens including viruses.
The coronavirus COVID-19 is thought to spread between people who are in close contact with one another, and all evidence from the spread of the virus shows that the drinking water supply is not a route for transmission of the virus. People should continue to use tap water as normal, including for drinking, hand washing, bathing, cooking, and cleaning teeth.”
However, if you’ve been specifically advised by Southern Water to restrict your use of water for water quality or public health reasons e.g. a boil water notice or do not use notices, please continue to follow this guidance until advised by us to do so.
As an essential public service, maintaining our services to customers is vital. In keeping with government advice on COVID-19 we’re taking all necessary steps to protect our colleagues while keeping our services running.
Our teams will continue to operate sites, repair assets and continue with planned investments. Robust resilience plans are in place – our ways of working are changed but our mission remains the same.
How you can help us
We’re working hard to ensure we protect our essential services while also looking after the health of our colleagues and their families. You can help us by reporting any leaks at southernwater.co.uk/help-advice/leaks/report-a-leak and only flushing the three P’s down the loo to minimise blockages.
3. Maintaining the Health, Safety and Wellbeing of our employees, those employed in the supply chain and our customers
Many of us are adapting to working differently during the COVID-19 pandemic but as I said at the beginning of this letter, a lot of Southern Water teams are recognised as essential workers and you will see them out and about working to protect the network and safeguard the water supplies we all rely on. Our health and safety procedures are rigorous during this time and I would ask you to make sure you too keep a distance from our teams when they are working in our communities.
These are very testing times for all of us but by working together we can make sure we’re looking after those who need us most and keeping our services running.
I wish you all the very best in what will be challenging weeks and months ahead.
Chief Executive Officer
Published: 24 April 2020