Getting a connection

Getting a water supply connection

If you need a new water supply connection, you have a choice about who provides it:

  • Local monopoly water company – your local monopoly water company has a duty to respond to requests for new connections for domestic purposes and we have powers to consider disputes about their charges;
  • Accredited self-lay provider (often called a self-lay organisation, SLO) – if you choose an accredited SLO to provide your new connection then you will have to agree terms and conditions with the SLO; or
  • New appointee – you may already be served by a new appointee. If this is the case, then the new appointee is your local monopoly water company. If you are not already served by a new appointee, but wish to choose a new appointee to provide your new connection, then that new appointee would have to provide the new connection via the NAV process.

We have powers to make decisions on certain disputes involving new water connections. These powers are different depending on whether the water connection is to supply water for domestic or non-domestic purposes and whether the provider of the new connection is your local monopoly water company, an SLO or a new appointee.

Below we provide more information on the following.

What does getting a new water connection involve?

If the property requiring a new water connection is close to an existing water main used by existing customers (usually in a nearby street) you can ask your local monopoly water company, an SLO or a new appointee (known as providers) to make the new connection. Most water companies have information on their websites setting out how you can do this.

To make the water connection, a provider will normally lay a communication pipe (often called a service pipe) in the street from the boundary of your property to the closest water main. You will usually be responsible for laying the section of the connection that lies in the land around your property, up to the boundary with the street.

If there is no water main near your property or your development includes construction of a new street, then a new water main may need to be constructed or an existing water main may need to be extended (this is called a water mains requisition). You may ask a provider to do this.

You may also want to ask for a new water supply connection for a property that is already receiving a water supply. This may be because you are renewing a water supply connection or separating a supply pipe.

What does a ‘domestic connection’ mean?

If you are the owner, or occupier, of a property you can ask a provider to make a new connection for water that will be used for domestic purposes.

Domestic purposes include water used for:

  • washing – washing machines, dishwashers;
  • cooking; and/or
  • sanitary facilities – toilets, bathrooms, showers.

Your local monopoly water company has a duty (under section 45 of the Water Industry Act 1991) to respond to requests for new connections for domestic purposes, but can charge you for providing the connection.

Before making the connection, your water company may apply certain conditions. For example, it may require you to:

  • pay a deposit for the work (usually the amount the water company estimates it will cost to make the connection); and
  • install the pipework and fittings that you are responsible for to appropriate standards.

If you choose an accredited SLO to provide your new connection then you will have to agree terms and conditions with the SLO.

What does a non-domestic connection mean?

If you are the owner or occupier of a property you can ask a provider to make a new connection for water that will be used for non-domestic purposes. Non-domestic use includes water for:

  • Commercial or industrial use;
  • An outside garden tap; and/or
  • A swimming pool.

When considering your request for a non-domestic supply the water company must make sure that it can meet all existing and potential demand for domestic purposes. To get a new water connection for non-domestic purposes you will need to agree terms and conditions, including the charge, with the water company.

The company is entitled to recover the reasonable costs of making the connection and a financial return on any investment (‘rate of return on any capital expenses’) it incurs. We can make a decision on disputes about an agreement’s terms and conditions.

What can a water company charge me for a new water connection?

Where a water company provides a new water connection for domestic water use to an existing water main, a water company can charge the customer the amount it has reasonably cost to make the connection.

These costs usually fall into two categories.

  • Connection cost – this is the cost to the company of it or its contractor physically making the connection; and
  • Administration cost – this is any administration cost that the company incurs in making the connection.

In addition the water company can charge an infrastructure charge for every new connection made to its network for the first time. This covers the cost of improving the water company’s distribution network to meet the demand created by new connections over time.

If providing your new connection(s) also requires the construction of a new water main the water company can charge you a requisition charge for the new water mains. This is in addition to the water connection charge for each connection, and the relevant infrastructure charge(s).

What are ‘administration costs’?

In addition to recovering the cost associated with physically making the connection, a water company can also recover any administration costs associated with the new connection.

When we consider disputes about charges for new connections, to help determine whether such costs are reasonably incurred we use an independent review of administration fee and overhead costs as a benchmark. This review sets out that administration costs for a new water supply connection should typically be no more than £105.30.

As with the connection costs, however, we assess cases on their own merits and we may deviate from this where there is reason to do so.

In recent determinations we have determined on a number of issues regarding the administration costs associated with new connections. This includes our expectations that water companies will:

  • Charge customers one administration fee – we do not expect water companies to charge multiple administration fees; and
  • Include the application fee associated with a new connection within its administration fee, not in addition.

What is an ‘infrastructure charge’?

In addition to the direct costs associated with a new water supply connection set out above, you will probably also have to pay an infrastructure charge. This charge covers the cost of improving your water company’s distribution network to meet general increases in demand from new connections over time.

When a premises is connected to a water company’s network, the water company is entitled to charge an infrastructure charge (under section 146 of the Water Industry Act 1991 and Condition C of the water company’s licence). Licence Condition C sets out how the water company calculates the charge and the upper limit of what it can charge. This figure was set in 2004 and increases each year in line with inflation.

In most circumstances infrastructure charges are charged on a standard basis of one charge per new connection (one for water and one for sewerage). However, if the new connection requires the use of a larger (non-standard) service pipe or is to a premises subject to a common billing agreement (such as block of flats where a management company is responsible for water charges), the infrastructure charges are calculated according to the number and type of water fittings in the premises. This is called the “relevant multiplier” method of calculating the charge.

If the premises or development site being connected previously had a connection in the last five years, then an infrastructure charge credit is applied. This reduces the number of infrastructure charges due by the number of premises previously connected in the previous five year period.

We are unable to consider disputes regarding the calculation of infrastructure charge where the standard basis for calculating them applies or the application of infrastructure charge credits. We can only consider disputes where the infrastructure charges due have been calculated by the relevant multiplier method.

What is a ‘requisition charge’?

If you need to ask for a new water main in order for your connection to be made, then you may have to pay a requisition charge. Your water company is entitled to charge you for providing the new water main and any necessary network reinforcement. The charge is based on the costs of providing the new water main and any network reinforcement, but must make an allowance for future income that the water company will receive from the newly connecting property or properties.

We can determine disputes about the amount a water company charges you for a main requisition. We can also determine disputes about the amount a water company charges an SLO for any network reinforcement work required to connect self-laid water mains.

How much should I pay for a new water connection?

When we consider disputes about new water connections provided by water companies, we determine the costs we believe the water company has reasonably incurred in providing the connection. To help us determine whether such costs are reasonably incurred we use a table that sets out the expected costs for a connection depending on the length of the connection (that is the length of the communication pipe) and where the connection is made i.e. in the verge, the footway or the carriageway.

The table was originally set out in an independent report from 2010 which we refer to as the Hyder report. However, in February 2017 we published an updated table, see below, that we will now use to benchmark costs for any new connection disputes referred to us. For more information, please read Information Notice 17/02. We will continue to use the table set out in the Hyder report for any new connections disputes referred to us before the date of Information Notice 17/02.

Cost Verge

Surface length (metres (m))

Footway

Surface length (metres (m))

Carriageway

Surface length (metres (m))

2m 4m 9m 2m 4m 9m 2m 4m 9m
Median £633.42 £713.35 £913.19 £773.84 £1,009.06 £1,597.10 £779.34 £1,020.67 £1,623.99
Maximum £1,029.41 £1,175.82 £1,541.85 £1,144.98 £1,419.20 £2,104.75 £1,188.50 £1,510.86 £2,316.74
Minimum £354.52 £409.34 £546.40 £458.47 £627.11 £1,048.73 £468.73 £648.60 £1,098.28

As a starting point, we would expect the costs for a new water supply connection to be no more than the median costs set out in the table. However, we determine each case on its merits and we may deviate from this where there is reason to do so.

For example, where a water company does not carry out all of the tasks that would typically be involved in making a water connection, such as excavating a trench, then we may consider comparing its costs to the minimum set out in the table below. Likewise if the new connection is particularly complex because of its location, for example on a busy street or road junction, we may consider comparing the costs to the maximum set out in the table.

What should I do if I don’t agree with the amount my water company wants to charge me for a new water connection?

If you are unhappy with the amount your water company wants to or has charged you for a new water connection you should complain directly to the water company. If this does not resolve your concern, you may wish to speak to the Consumer Council for Water, who may be able to help resolve the matter with your water company.

We have powers to consider disputes about new water connection charges. We can only consider these, however, after the new connection has been provided, and if the water company has had an opportunity to respond to your complaint. We are not able to consider disputes where the new connection has not yet been provided. We are also not able to consider disputes about infrastructure charges where they are charged on a standard basis of one per premises.

If you are considering referring your dispute to us, we would advise you to first familiarise yourself with the expected costs that we use when considering disputes. If you have been charged in line with these costs, then it is likely that we will consider the costs you have been charged to be reasonable. You can also use the decisions we have made on other similar disputes as a guide.

When we make a decision on your dispute both you and the water company must follow our decision.

If you wish to refer a dispute to us for determination you should submit your complaint by email to [email protected] or send a hard copy to:

Case Management Office
Ofwat
Centre City Tower
7 Hill Street
Birmingham
B5 4UA
United Kingdom

When submitting your complaint you should provide us with the following information:

  • Details of the complainant(s);
  • Details of the other parties involved;
  • A clear description of what the complaint is about, including any details around costs, plans, copies of quotations, photographic evidence (where relevant) and relevant correspondence;
  • Key dates and chronology;
  • Explanation of the process that has been followed to resolve the dispute (for example, has CCWater or WATRS been involved?); and
  • A description of any other issues relating to the dispute that are relevant.