A resilient response to incidents – how we’re working to improve service during a crisis

Over the last few months we’ve been reviewing our emergency response and planning, so we can better support customers during an extreme weather event.

Southern Water director Helen Simonian said “We have listened to the feedback from our customers, regulators and experts from local resilience forums, and carried out a far reaching enquiry into the lessons learnt during the sudden freeze/ thaw earlier this year.

“We have identified key areas of improvement and plans are in place, and being rigorously tested, to ensure we can better support our customers during supply interruptions.

“We’ve strengthened our preparation and planning, with new emergency response plans and a dedicated emergency planning team now in place. In addition we are working closely with other water companies and local resilience forums to ensure coordination of bottled water supplies and share best practise.”

Other improvements made include:

  • Worked with local councils to pre-identify bottled water stations in strategic areas around the region, and increased our bottled water stock to ensure quick and efficient distribution of alternative water supplies to our customers during a crisis
  • Increased our emergency water stocks around the region by a further 570,000 litres (on top daily contract of 200,000 litres)
  • We have more than doubled our employees on a 24/7 standby rota
  • An ehanced training schedule for all those involved with incident response
  • Increasing our volunteer pool to more than 100 people to help during an incident – it is our ambition to get 10% of the workforce on volunteer standby.
  • Emergency response teams have attended in-depth training courses, including Water UK’s ‘emergency planning and security for the water industry’ and Met office ‘forecasting for incidents’
  • We’ve carried out live training exercises with employees, including emergency water disruption events and bottled water distribution during an incident
  • We’ve embedded new ways of working with retailers. Including early escalation and better information sharing
  • We’ve improved our weather forecasting, with Red, Amber and Green status for adverse weather developed in conjunction with UK Power Networks to incorporate wind and lightning risks
  • We’ve developed a brand new extreme weather awareness campaign ‘Weather Eye’ which launches on Dec 1st in partnership with local resilience forums.
  • We’ve rolled out a programme of four major emergency planning exercises a year interspersed with specific incident activity exercises and training based on incident reviews, incident risks, and testing of contingency plans.