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United Kingdom (UK) - Water

Water, like most utilities, is available through a variety of different suppliers. You might be able to compare water companies in your region to find the best price, or you may be tied to just one regional water provider. The UK has both soft and hard water areas. Before buying a house or moving to the UK you may want to find out which regions have soft or hard water. It can vary greatly from region to region, even within small communities. For example, Greater London is said to have both hard and soft water depending on which side of the Thames you are on.

Tap water is safe to drink in the United Kingdom, although some residents prefer bottled water, which is widely available. Water purification systems can also be bought for homes and offices. These systems attach to your main water line, sink, or refrigerator.

The United Kingdom has one of the longest rainy seasons in the Northern Hemisphere. This means that droughts tend not to be an issue, but flooding can present problems, especially on low ground.

A portion of the water bill goes to capital investment for government programs such as water conservation and research for improving water quality. The United Kingdom has a rising demand for water each year, thus there is a need to provide better service. Ofwat has established a regulatory system to help reduce and control water bills, ensuring that prices are consistent across all UK countries, including Northern Ireland.

Water Conservation

Running out of fresh water is not a prevalent concern in the UK, but residents are still quite water conscious. About 40% of residents could reduce their water costs with increased water conservation. Suggestions have been made for how to reduce bills, such as using a cup of water when brushing your teeth instead of leaving the tap running.

Statistics show that each person uses about 150 litres of water per day. We also tend to drink about 4,645 litres a day based on the items we consume. A five-minute shower can use 40 litres of water, whereas a bath uses 80 litres. There are several websites in the UK which list average water usage and suggest preservation tips.

The United Kingdom government also works to conserve water and to keep tap water fresh and available.

Metered or Unmetered Homes

Water meters are prevalent in the United Kingdom. Some households use storage tanks to catch rain water. There are also communal water tanks in some rural communities and to supply some blocks of flats in larger cities.

Getting Connected

Residents will need to find out which water companies service their area and compare prices. There is a chance that only one water supplier will be available in your location, particularly if you live in Northern Ireland.

Once you know which company will be providing your water, you can log on to their website or telephone them to get connected. Information and documentation is required to start the service. Usually your name and full address are needed, along with your user type. User type is defined as commercial or residential, and may also state whether you are a temporary or permanent resident. Billing is usually conducted on a quarterly basis, starting on the date you read the meter when you contacted the water company to get your connection. You may want to enquire about payment plans to spread the cost.

Water and sewerage bills are usually lumped together. This is an important factor when you are considering switching services and when calculating costs. Costs are based on how the water company might supply water. There are various methods including reservoirs, rivers, and underground resources that can be tapped for raw water.

Water Suppliers

The following water suppliers operate across the United Kingdom. Some are region-specific to Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales.

Affinity Water Limited

Bristol Water PLC

Northern Ireland Water

Scottish Water

United Utilities

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