5 Live Updates arrow
Account Login

What happens when there's an incident?

Learn more about the help and support you can expect from us during and after an incident.


What can cause an incident?

Incidents can happen for several reasons, including:

  • Burst pipes and large leaks.
  • Severe weather (thunderstorms, heavy rain, freeze-thaw cycles, prolonged dry spells).
  • Water quality concerns.
  • Site or asset failure.
  • Power failure or power cuts.

How we’ll support you during an interruption to your water supply

Our response varies depending on the risks associated with the incident and its impact.

How we'll contact you

During an incident, there are several ways we will keep you informed:

Southern Water office control

Bottled water

We make sure our customers have at least 10 litres of water per person, per day, if we are unable to provide water through normal piped supply. This increases to 20 litres per person, per day, after 120 hours (five days). We'll make water easily available throughout every 24 hour period during a loss of supply. 

We primarily provide alternative water using bottled water stations, doorstep deliveries and through the use of tankers filling up reservoirs or adding water directly into the water network. 

Hasting bottled water station

Bottled water stations

We distribute water to customers using bottled water stations. These are set up at locations selected in partnership with local authorities.

These locations are identified and agreed in advance as part of our emergency planning. Bottled water stations offer drive-thru collection, with a safe pedestrian access area.

Vulnerable customers

If you are a customer on our Priority Service Register, you may be entitled to receive water delivered to your door if there is an interruption to your normal piped supply. We strive to make sure deliveries are made to our vulnerable customers within 12 hours and we'll continue to deliver bottled water every 24 hours until the supply returns.

We promote our Priority Service Register across various platforms, including our website and social media, to make sure vulnerable customers are correctly supported throughout every incident.

Compensation payment

If we fail to restore your water supply within 12 hours, we’ll automatically credit your account with £30. A further automatic payment of £30 will be made for each additional 12-hour period without water.

If we were aware you had been affected by an interruption and we fail to provide compensation to you within 20 working days of the date of the incident, you may be entitled to a further payment of £20, which we’ll automatically credit to your account.

Payments for unplanned supply interruptions will not apply under the following circumstances:

  • It’s impractical for us to have identified you as being affected, and you haven’t made a claim within three months of the date on which the supply was cut off.
  • Severe weather prevented the supply being restored;
  • Where the supply was interrupted or cut off due to a leak or burst on a strategic main, or for any other unplanned reason, the circumstances were so exceptional that it would be unreasonable to expect the supply to be restored within the relevant period;
  • The regulation does not apply where supply is interrupted or cut off due to a drought.


Frequently asked questions

Here you'll find answers to some commonly asked questions about unplanned events.

We may on occasion issue Emergency Notices about your water supply. This could occur in the rare event that there are concerns surrounding water quality. 

There are 5 different Emergency Notices that could be issued:

  • Boil your tap water before use.
  • Do not use tap water for drinking or cooking.
  • Do not use tap water for drinking, cooking, or washing. 
  • Do not use tap water.
  • Use your tap water as normal. 

You will receive communication via post if there is a need to boil your water, or if you cannot use your water. We will also utilise other forms of communication to support our messaging and ensure customers know what is required. 

Bottled Water will be delivered by companies supporting our response to the incident. It is unlikely that they will be a direct employee of Southern Water. 

If you are on the Priority Service Register and have not received water, it may be that it is still out for delivery. We sometimes have to complete 1000’s of doorstep deliveries, which does take time. Please contact us if you have not received a delivery after 12 hours of losing water. 

It's normal for temporary discolouration or a difference in taste or smell whilst the water flushes through the pipes after a supply interruption.

Find out more on our My water looks, smells, or tastes unusual help and support page.

Identifying an incident

Our operational control centre operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The team work tirelessly to prevent incidents from occurring and responding to them when they do. They make sure that the appropriate Incident Response team is set up as soon as possible so that we can quickly respond to the incident and minimise the impact to our customers or the environment. 

Did you find the information you are looking for?

Thank you for your feedback. We’re glad you found this information useful!
We're sorry to hear that. Please tell us a bit more by ticking any of the boxes below that apply.
Page feedback form

Cookies required

It looks like some of your cookies are disabled. If you want to use this feature, please enable functional cookies and refresh the page.