About your supply

Below you will find information regarding the supply of drinking water to the Bournemouth Water area.

Water quality

Key information

For information on water hardness and test results from customers' taps in your area, please use this postcode search.

The files listed below give key information about water quality:

  • Company Profile
  • Standards Explained
  • Regulation
  • Water Hardness
  • Taste and Odour
  • Flouride
  • Fish keeping in aquariums and ponds

Background

We supply drinking water to 430,000 people in parts of Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire. This number increases significantly during the summer months with the influx of visitors to the area.

Most of the supply comes from the Rivers Avon and Stour, and the remainder comes from boreholes at Stanbridge, Wimborne, Hale and Lymington.

Safe, good quality water

A dependable source of safe drinking water is essential to life. Early methods of purifying drinking water without disinfection were only partially effective against the resilient microbes that can cause cholera, typhoid fever and dysentery.

When chlorination was used as part of properly designed water treatment systems in the early 1900s, these diseases were effectively eliminated. As a result, we have seen the UK annual death rate from waterborne diseases drop from 40 per 100,000 at the beginning of the 20th century to none. The standards of treatment and management mean that the water supply in the UK is among the safest in the world.

In order to provide you with safe, good quality drinking water we look after water quality from the source, through treatment and finally, at your tap.

Analysis and monitoring

Water quality is highly regulated. Our dedicated team carries out thousands of tests, taking samples 365 days a year from treatment works, reservoirs and customer taps to ensure that our water meets the required standards.

The result of any test is only as good as the sample taken, so a sample taken from a customer’s tap with defective plumbing, for example, could count as a ‘failure’ against the standards.

Sampling is almost a science in its own right, with over 30 types of sample containers and a wide range of techniques.

Microbiological testing provides an important measure of water quality and any non-compliance is taken seriously. We analyse water samples for bacteria of the coliform group, which occur naturally in large numbers in soil and vegetation. These bacteria outlive many harmful bacteria and are therefore a sensitive indicator of water quality. If they are found in drinking water, it indicates that there is the potential for other harmful bacteria to be present.

However, as bacteria are so widespread, their presence may indicate a problem with the sampling, rather than with the supply. If a sample does indicate the presence of coliforms, we immediately test more samples and investigate the circumstances.

Water hardness and treatment

Hardness levels

Water hardness is governed by the geology of the water source. Most of our water originates from chalk aquifers where it dissolves natural minerals, such as calcium carbonate – chalk hardness or limescale.

You have probably noticed this calcium carbonate inside your kettle in the form of scale. Very small crystals can also form a scum on top of hot drinks.

Most of our water supply is classified as "moderately hard" (on a scale of one to ten this would be seven). The Total Hardness Level is 270 mg per litre as Calcium Carbonate (CaCO3). This is equivalent to:

PPM (parts per million) Clarke Degrees French Degrees German Degrees
270 19 27 15

Supplies north of Ringwood receive a slightly higher hardness level of 320 mg/l as CaCO3. This is equivalent to:

PPM (parts per million) Clarke Degrees French Degrees German Degrees
320 22 32 18

If you are not happy with the hardness of the water, you might consider some form of treatment, such as jug filters, softeners or conditioners. However, all these systems have pros and cons.

Jug Filters

Jug filters are jugs that have a replaceable cartridge housed in a unit that fits on top. The two types of cartridge available have either:

  • An activated carbon media designed to remove chlorine and organics, or
  • An ion exchange resin media designed to soften the water

The carbon cartridges don't chemically alter the nature of the water but simply absorb things like chlorine. If you find black deposits in the water, they will most likely have come from these cartridges, rather than our water supply.

The ion exchange softening cartridges chemically remove the calcium and magnesium salts in the water and replace them with sodium. For this reason, we advise against using this water for drinking for people on low sodium diets. We also advise against using this water for making up infant feeds. These cartridges may leave orange or white particles in the water.

It’s important to maintain both types of filters in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Dirty filters can cause a build-up of particles and encourage bacterial growth, which contaminates the water. Filtered water should be drunk soon after pouring, as water with the chlorine removed has no protection against the growth of bacteria.

Water softeners

These plumbed-in devices use salt to soften the water by removing the hardness salts (calcium and magnesium) and replacing them with sodium.

We strongly advise keeping a separate tap for un-softened water for drinking as water softened this way can contain higher levels of sodium, which is not recommended for people on low sodium diets, or for making infant feeds. It has also been suggested that people who consume softened water suffer a higher incidence of heart disease.

Softened water is a lot more aggressive towards metal fittings. You may experience higher corrosion of pipework, and if a softening system is fitted to an older system, there is a greater risk of pinhole leaking once the protective hardness layer has been removed.

Water conditioners

These devices are attached to the outside of water pipes. They do not alter the chemical composition of water, but send some form of electric or magnetic pulse into the water as it passes through. In theory, this changes the crystalline structure of the hardness salts so that a hard limescale does not build up.

Despite manufacturers’ claims, it has not been possible to find a unit that works in all circumstances. If you wish to try one, choose a manufacturer that offers a full refund after a reasonable trial period in case you are not satisfied.

Drinking Water Inspectorate reports

The Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) was established by the Government to monitor the performance of water companies in providing safe and wholesome drinking water, and to ensure that all water companies meet the requirements of the stringent legislation.

Each year, the Chief Inspector of Drinking Water publishes a report on drinking water quality.

These reports are produced on a regional basis.The latest DWI water quality report is available here.

Water regulations

Introduction

The Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999, known as Water Regulations, came into force on 1 July 1999. These regulations are important as they may affect you.

Safeguarding our water supply

These regulations have been introduced to make people aware of the serious risks to health that could be caused by our drinking water becoming polluted. This type of contamination is potentially the most harmful kind of environmental pollution.

Your responsibility

As the owner or occupier of premises, you are responsible for your water systems. Incorrectly installed plumbing that allows the water supply to become contaminated would make you liable for prosecution and fines, plus the costs of making the water system fit for drinking once again. These costs could be considerable.

New water fittings

The Water Regulations state that anyone installing new water fittings after 1 July 1999 must ensure that they are of the appropriate quality and standard and are properly installed. A properly installed plumbing system prevents drinking water being contaminated with water used for other purposes, such as central heating, washing machines and dishwashers. Water used for industrial purposes could also be a major threat to the drinking water supply through incorrectly installed water systems and fittings.

Advanced notification

Under the regulations, you must notify us before starting certain types of plumbing work, including:

  • putting up new buildings
  • alterations and extensions to the water system in non-domestic premises
  • significantly changing the use of premises, or
  • installing bidets, certain types of baths and showers, pumps or boosters
  • drawing more than 12 litres per minute, and reverse osmosis water filters or water treatment units.

Approved Plumber Scheme

Like most other water suppliers in Britain, we support the WaterSafe.

Plumbers registered with the scheme will:

  • have demonstrated their experience of plumbing work and knowledge of the regulations
  • certify that any installation or maintenance work satisfies the regulations
  • be legally responsible for any breaches of the regulations in the certified work (rather than the owner or occupier)
  • have liability insurance cover

In addition, approved contractors can carry out certain categories of work before giving notification, provided they certify that the work complies with the regulations on completion.

Find approved plumbers in your area

Frequently asked questions

I have never heard of Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations. What are they for?

Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations replace what was previously known as Water Byelaws. They have been passed by the Government to protect the water supply from being contaminated by substandard or incorrectly installed pipework and fittings. These regulations also prevent the waste, misuse and erroneous measurement of water.

How do they affect me?

You must ensure that:

  • new fittings are up to standard and correctly installed
  • all your fittings are properly maintained
  • water used for other purposes, such as central heating, washing machines and dishwashers, or industrial and commercial purposes, cannot pollute the water supply

Not all the fittings available for sale are of the appropriate quality and standard required by the regulations. A key part of meeting the requirements is preventing the backflow of potentially contaminated water into other parts of the system. The regulations define the types of devices required.

In addition, you must get our consent to carry out certain types of work, such as:

  • putting up new buildings
  • extending or altering the water system in non-domestic premise
  • significantly changing the use of premises, or
  • installing bidets, certain types of baths and showers, pumps or boosters drawing more than 12 litres per minute, reverse osmosis water filters or water treatment units

What if I ignore the regulations? The Government won’t send someone round to check, will they?

As your water supplier, we enforce the regulations. Under UK legislation we are allowed to inspect any property we supply to check your plumbing work and ensure that water fittings have been installed correctly.

If my plumbing system has not been installed correctly, can you make me put it right?

Yes, in certain circumstances. If a plumbing system poses a risk to health through contamination, for example, you would need to rectify it. In extreme cases, financial penalties can be imposed.

What happens if my plumber has not done a job correctly?

If you have had plumbing work completed and you’re not sure if it has been done correctly, please contact us. We’ll send someone to assess whether the work meets the legal requirements. If you used a plumber from the Approved Plumber Scheme they must take responsibility for the work and they can be struck off the scheme if their work is substandard.

What’s the difference between the Water Byelaws and the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations?

Water Byelaws were made and enforced by water suppliers. The current regulations make water companies responsible for enforcing rules for the whole water supply industry. We act as the inspecting body to make sure the regulations are adhered to.

Where can I get more information and advice about the regulations?

You can view or download the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations and their schedules (SI 1999 No. 1148 and No. 1506) at HM Stationery Office. www.legislation.hmso.gov.uk/stat.htm


For information and guidance on the regulations visit the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS). Run by the water industry, WRAS provides advice for anyone needing guidance on the principles of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations.

Alternatively, please contact our Water Regulations department by emailing us.

Water pressure

Do you want to know the water pressure in your street?

Please contact your retailer using the number shown on your bill if you'd like to know the pressure in the water mains feeding your property.

The pressure will depend on your location and may vary at different times of day. Water pressure can be affected by many factors, such as:

the difference in height between your property and the reservoir that feeds you

  • the distance from the reservoir to your property
  • the length and diameter of the pipes in the supply network
  • whether the water is pumped and if so, when and at what pressure
  • whether your area has any pressure control in place
  • the demand for water in the area

There may also be a difference between the pressure in our mains in the road outside your premises and the pressure inside your premises. This could be due to:

  • the ground level of our water main compared to your property
  • the number of floors in the property and, if you are plumbing in an appliance, the floor on which it is located
  • the length of your underground supply pipe (this usually runs from the boundary stopcock in the road to the first internal stopcock inside the property), the diameter of the supply pipe and its condition as leaks can reduce pressure
  • whether you are on a shared supply pipe with an adjoining property – flats are often fed by one shared supply pipe
  • the size of the pipework within the property
  • the amount of water being used in the property at any one time

The requirement

We must comply with certain standards set out in the Water Industry Act 1991 Part III Chapter II "Means of Supply" Section 65.

We are required to supply water constantly and at a pressure which will reach the upper floors of buildings. This does not apply to buildings using pumped systems, such as blocks of flats. We are not required to provide a supply of water to a height greater than that to which it would flow by gravitation through our water mains from the reservoir.

For more information on water pressure, go to the website of the water industry regulator, Ofwat.

The minimum standard for pressure

We must supply a pressure of not less than ten metres’ head (1 bar). This is the height that water would reach in a vertical pipe. This pressure level applies to the communication pipe supplying your property (the pipe that goes from our main, usually to the boundary of your property) for a flow of nine litres per minute inside the property.

In most areas the pressure is higher than this. Our regulator, Ofwat, requires us to report the number of properties that receive pressure lower than this standard each year.

The minimum standard for pressure is called the level of service indicator, known as DG2. This level of service does not override our duty to supply water constantly at a pressure to reach the upper floors of properties.

Compensation for poor pressure

You can claim a compensation payment for low pressure if:

  • The pressure in your communication pipe falls below seven metres' head for one hour or more, twice in any 28-day period. (We can only make one compensation payment in a 12-month period for low pressure.)
  • You complain about poor water pressure and we fail to visit you within three working days of receiving your complaint.

Please contact your retailer on the number shown on your bill if you’d like us to measure the pressure at or near your premises. We can measure it over seven days or carry out a spot check. We normally charge for this unless the low pressure is caused by a problem with our network. More information is in the Non-household Water Charges booklet.

For information on compensation payments for low pressure, please refer to your retailer.

Change in pressure – large users

If you’re a large user, your retailer will contact you before we make any permanent changes that may affect the water pressure, to discuss how your business might be affected.

Supply interruptions

Planned interruptions

We may occasionally have to stop your water supply while we carry out essential maintenance or repair work. We understand that this can be inconvenient, but it is essential for keeping our mains and connections in good condition.

When this happens, we always try to:

  • Give you at least five days’ warning (seven days for large users)
  • Discuss the work with you, and
  • Work around your schedule and your needs as much as possible

We prioritise the needs of schools, care homes, doctors, dentists, hairdressers, hotels, restaurants and similar premises.

For more information on how we handle both planned and unplanned interruptions, please see our Non-household wholesale service standards scheme. This contains full details of the standards we must meet (set by our regulator and by ourselves) for warning you about planned interruptions, and restoring the supply afterwards. It also sets out the compensation we must pay if we fail to meet those standards. For more information, please call your retailer on the number shown on your bill.

Emergency interruptions

We want you to be able to take your water supply for granted, but every now and then, leaks or burst water mains can reduce or stop the flow without warning. If this happens, we do all we can to reconnect the water supply as quickly as possible, although there may be times when your supply is interrupted for several hours.

In an extreme case, the supply could be affected for a period of days, rather than hours. This is very unlikely as we have detailed operating and emergency plans to minimise the risk of this happening.

If we do have to cut off your supply in an emergency and we cannot restore it within 12 hours – or 24 hours if the problem is on a strategic main – we'll pay compensation for every 24-hour period that you are without water.

For full details on how we deal with emergency interruptions, please see our Non-household wholesale service standards scheme. This sets out the standards we must meet (set by our regulator and by ourselves) for restoring your supply. It also shows the compensation we must pay if we fail to meet those standards.

Affected by street works

We are continually investing to maintain and improve the region's water network.

This often requires us to work in the highway. We work hard to reduce the impact of our works in the community. However, if your business is directly affected by our works in the highway, you may be entitled to claim compensation for loss of profit.

Our guide sets out what you need to do, including the information we need in order to process any claim.

Contingency planning

If you are making or reviewing your company’s contingency plans, please include interruptions to the water supply in those plans. This is particularly important if you use water as part of an industrial process. There are two aspects to this:

  1. Finding out how much water you use in a day. You can do this by checking your meter, or asking your retailer to help measure your usage.
  2. Deciding on a backup source or sources. If you have storage for water, make sure it is big enough for your needs. Alternatively, an agreement with a company supplying emergency drinking water or portable toilets could be the answer.

Although we are required by law to provide an emergency supply to our domestic customers from bottled water and roadside bowsers, it's not practical to provide the large quantities that commercial or industrial users might need.

Water supply problems

No water or low pressure

If you have little or no running water, it could be caused by:

  • A problem with your internal plumbing
  • Planned work we are carrying out
  • An emergency, such as a burst main

Click here to see if there's planned work or an emergency in your area. If the interruption to your supply was planned, we'll have given you notice.

If we're not working in your area, check a tap near your internal stopcock, where the water supply enters your premises. If the flow is normal, there's a problem with your internal plumbing and you need to contact a plumber.

If the flow from this tap is affected, check that the inside stopcock is fully open. If it is, find out whether nearby buildings have the same problem.

If nearby buildings are without water and there's no information about incidents in your area on our website, it could mean we're not yet aware of any problems. You can let us know by calling us on 01202 590059 (calls are monitored 24 hours a day).

If neighbouring buildings have water, the problem is on your property and you'll need to find a plumber.

Unusual appearance, taste or smell

Your water should be clear and free from substances which cause discolouration. If your water looks cloudy, a haze of tiny bubbles is the most likely cause. This will clear if you let the water stand for a few minutes.

You might notice some discolouration after work has been carried out on or near your supply or after a burst main. We'll ask you to run cold water to clear it.

Most water quality problems are caused by internal plumbing. However, if we're at fault, you may be entitled to a modest compensation payment.

For full details, please see our Non-household wholesale service standards schedule and call your retailer to make a claim.

Serious problems

Although it's a very rare occurrence, we need to be prepared for a major water quality incident. If this happens, we'll deliver a ‘do not use’, ‘do not drink’ or ‘boil water’ notice to your premises. We'll deal with the problem as soon as possible and let you know when the supply is back to normal.

Leaks

In the street

If you've seen a leak in the street, please call our Freephone Leakline 08005 878 979.

Inside or outside on your premises

All the pipework on your premises, whether inside or outside, is your responsibility. If you need to find a plumber, please visit WaterSafe. We can offer some help with leaks on the underground supply pipe that runs from your property boundary to your internal stopcock. For more information, please contact your retailer on the number shown on your bill.

Find a plumber

When you're looking for a plumbing business, we recommend you select one which is a member of an Approved Contractors’ Scheme, such as WaterSafe or the Water Industry Approved Plumbers’ Scheme (WIAPS).

Using an approved contractor will give you the following benefits:

  • Approved contractors are fully qualified to carry out plumbing work in homes and business premises. They have specific training in Water Fittings Regulations and Byelaws, which enables them to ensure there should be no risk from poor installation or sub-standard materials that could cause contamination of your drinking water supply.
  • They will issue a ‘work completed’ certificate for their work, which provides a defense for property owners who are challenged by a water supplier enforcing the Water Fittings Regulations and Byelaws.
  • For most types of plumbing work, plumbers have a legal duty to notify the water supplier before they start work and this can lead to delays. Approved contractors can carry out some work without the need to provide advanced notification to the water supplier.
  • Approved businesses hold public and employers’ liability insurance. There is an independent complaints procedure in place to resolve any technical disputes about how the work has been carried out, should a concern arise.
  • Approved businesses will be required to put their work right if it does not meet the requirements of the Water Fittings Regulations or Byelaws, enforced by the water supplier.
  • Approved businesses are audited to check they are complying with the rules of their Approved Contractors’ Scheme.

Make a complaint

If you're not satisfied with our service, please contact your retailer on the number shown on your bill.

WaterSafe

WaterSafe is an umbrella organisation bringing together thousands of qualified contractors employed by plumbing businesses from the seven existing Approved Contractors’ Schemes across the UK.

WaterSafe aims to raise plumbing standards by helping customers find the nearest qualified plumbing and heating professionals, through their dedicated online search facility.

To search for a plumbing business near you, follow this link: https://www.watersafe.org.uk

WIAPS

The Water Industry Approved Plumbers’ Scheme (WIAPS) is run by the Water Regulations Advisory Scheme (WRAS). This is one of the seven existing Approved Contractors’ Schemes in the UK. Not all plumbing businesses registered with WIAPS have signed up to WaterSafe, so WIAPS may have additional qualified plumbers near you.

This website also includes a list of groundworkers who are qualified to undertake work on outside water services only and other specialist workers who work within designated sectors.

Follow the link to search on the WIAPS website: http://www.wras.co.uk/WIAPS/Plumber_search.asp