We consider a number of issues relating to the delivery of a safe and clean water supply.

Here’s an overview of what we do in the following areas:

  Drinking water quality
  Fluoridation
  Smart meters and electromagnetic sensitivity
  Trickle flow devices
  Tap water in restaurants

Drinking water quality

Here in England and Wales, the water that comes out of our taps is not only safe to drink, it’s graded as among the best domestically supplied drinking water in the world. This is because it must comply with various standards including those in The Water Supply (Water Quality) Regulations, which are rigorously monitored by water companies and DWI (the Drinking Water Inspectorate).

If you have any questions about the quality of your drinking water, please contact your water company in the first instance.

Fluoridation

Fluoride is already present at low levels in most drinking water in England and Wales. Fluoridation is the process of adding very small additional quantities of fluoride to drinking water. This is done to strengthen human tooth enamel and protect against tooth decay.

The decision to fluoridate supplies is taken by the local authority, which will also cover the costs of the work. Local authorities must consult with consumers before taking any decision. As this is a specialist health issue, CCWater also expects local authorities to explain the issues clearly and so that consumers understand the debate and can make an informed decision.

Once a decision to fluoridate has been taken the local authority will ask the water company to add fluoride to the supplies. Severn Trent Water, Northumbrian Water, Anglian Water, United Utilities and South Staffordshire Water currently operate ‘Fluoridation Schemes’ for around half a million consumers.

Find out more about fluoride levels in water supply in England and Wales.

Smart Water Meters and Electromagnetic Sensitivity

Some water customers have raised concerns over the use of Smart Water Meters and electromagnetic sensitivity.

Most water meters are mechanical but some companies are fitting smarter meters with the facility for automated reading by drive by readers or via fixed area networks. It is for the water company to decide which type of water meter it proposes to use. However, the Consumer Council for Water expects water companies to take any customer concerns seriously and to deal with them sensitively. The company’s policy must be clearly explained and appropriate information given.

There are a number of independent sources that provide information on smart meters including Public Health England.

CCWater is not in a position to take a view on any medical concerns or issues.

Trickle flow devices

Trickle flow devices can be fitted to either metered or unmetered water supplies to deliberately reduce the flow of water to a customer. Their main use is to cause inconvenience, while maintaining basic health and hygiene requirements, so the customer will pay their water debt.

It is currently illegal for water companies to use trickle flow devices for non-payment of household bills in the UK. However, the idea is often raised in press and industry circles.

We support the existing ban and would not support any movement to reverse this without strong evidence. In particular, we are concerned about the potential public health impacts and there may be an effect on household appliances.

We will continue to monitor the sensitivity of this debate, especially as consumer debt is rising faster than the rate of increase for water bills and currently adds around £21 to each household water bill.

Tap water in restaurants

Pubs and restaurants have to supply free tap water if they serve alcohol. The Government updated rules requiring establishments to have free tap water available wherever alcohol is sold, in an attempt to combat binge drinking.

You can read more about the Home Office’s guidance here. Failure to comply with any conditions attached to a license or certificate is a criminal offence, which could be punishable by a fine, imprisonment or both.