Choosing a water supply licensee

What are water supply licensees?

Water supply licensees are companies that have a licence from us to supply water to non-household customers. If you are eligible, you can choose to switch from your existing supplier to a water supply licensee.

Who is eligible?

In order to switch you must meet all the following criteria.

  • You are a non-household customer.
  • You must use (or expect to use) more than 5 million litres of water a year at a single set of premises when you switch. If you are a customer of Dŵr Cymru, or Dee Valley Water, then the threshold amount is 50 million litres.
  • Your premises are not being supplied by another licensee. But they may be supplied by a licensee and one or more water companies.

Also, if your site has both household and non-household parts, the household part must depend on the non-household part. For example nurses’ accommodation that is part of a hospital site.

The water supply licensee you choose is responsible for making sure that you are eligible before you switch supply. Please see our ‘Guidance on eligibility’ for further information.

From April 2017, most non-household customers of suppliers based wholly or mainly in England will be able to choose both their water and wastewater retailer. They will not have to use a minimum amount of water. Find out more.

Which companies are water supply licensees?

You can only switch to a company that we have licensed.

Things to consider when choosing a water supply licensee

When you are choosing a water supply licensee you should make sure that their licence is still valid by checking that the company is still listed on our website.

You should discuss with potential suppliers:

  • how much they will charge you for your water supply
  • whether they can offer you any additional services
  • what account management information they are offering to provide
  • what standards of service they are offering and what they will do if they fail to deliver the promised standards
  • who to contact about the new supplies and any problems

How does it work?

Once you change your supplier to a water supply licensee, it will take over responsibility for your billing and customer service. This includes day-to-day customer contact for queries and problems, and advice about water usage and water conservation.

Water supply licensees get their water from their own source, such as a borehole, or they buy it wholesale from another water company.

If they use their own source of drinking water then the Drinking Water Inspectorate must confirm that it is safe to use before the water supply licensee begins supplying you. They introduce their source of water into the public supply system, and you continue to use the water that comes out of your taps.

If they buy water from another company, then they need to negotiate a price for that water before they can begin to charge you. You will continue to use the water from the public supply.

Switching to a water supply licensee does not affect how you pay for sewerage services.

What do you need to do to switch?

Once you contact a water supply licensee, it will need to agree terms with you, taking into account the cost of introducing its own water into the public supply, or buying water from another company. After you have agreed terms, it can begin the switch.

The water supply licensee you choose will make all the arrangements for switching your supply. It will need to ask you some details about your premises and associated billing information so that it can make the switch.

Before your switch goes ahead, you will need to provide your water supply licensee with a signed consent form that confirms you are expressing an interest in it becoming your new supplier.

Once you have been switched to your new supplier, you will receive a final bill from your previous supplier.

How long does it take?

After terms and charges have been agreed between you and the water supply licensee, the switch should take between 20 and 30 working days.

How you are protected as a water supply licensee customer

The price the water supply licensee charges you is a matter for commercial negotiation. However, we regulate the price that it is charged for buying water, or for introducing its own water into the public supply.

The Drinking Water Inspectorate is responsible for regulating the quality of your drinking water supply.

Disputes and complaints

If you think that you have been transferred to another supplier in error, you can contact either your old supplier or your new supplier, and raise an objection.

If you wish to dispute your initial meter reading, your final bill from your old supplier, or your first bill from your water supply licensee, you should contact the relevant party. A disputed meter reading should not prevent your switch.

You should pay the undisputed amount of any disputed invoices (actual or estimated) within your contracted credit period terms. Disputes should be reconciled separately.

If a dispute about the switching process cannot be resolved by the parties concerned, we can make a determination under section 18 of the Water Industry Act 1991.

If you have a complaint about your water supply licensee you should contact them in the first instance. You can also contact theConsumer Council for Water.