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Businesses unprepared for water outages, research finds (2019)

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By Eleanor Bailey (Article supplied by business water retailer Water Plus)


According to our new research report, small businesses – and large ones – in the UK are worryingly unprepared for problems with their water supply.

We surveyed 1,000 organisations across the UK, including more than 600 small and medium-sized businesses (also known as SME), to find out if they had plans in place for an interruption to their water supply.

The results were surprising: despite the disastrous effects it can have, businesses aren’t putting plans in place to deal with potential problems in their water network.

What we found

The survey conducted by YouGov for Water Plus, found only 34% of large* businesses and 11% of small and medium-sized businesses have plans in place to mitigate a water outage.

That means most smaller and medium-sized businesses aren’t prepared for an interruption to their water supply! Research in 2017 also highlighted how many businesses were unprepared for water supply issues. 

And yet… almost half (46%) of the larger* organisations questioned and 39% of those that employ under 250 people – said they had a supply disruption in the 12 months leading up to the survey.

That shows that an interruption to your water is probably more likely thank you think. After all, your water can easily be affected by a leak, a frozen or burst pipe, maintenance work, and many other factors.

When business leaders expect to lose a whopping fifth of their company’s production/sales to a supply interruption that lasts 24hrs or more, it’s no wonder bigger businesses take steps to minimise the effects of water problems.

Here’s what our respondents who’d actually experienced a water incident said the outcome was: 1 in 5 (21%) of SMEs said productivity dropped because of water problems.

That’s not something you want!

Worryingly, back in 2017, we did this same study and the results still haven’t changed.

What it means for your business

From building to baking, hairdressing to horticulture, water is essential for so many businesses. If the water dries up, your ability to carry on with normal business dries up too! Even if it’s just tea and toilets, it’s worth considering if you and your staff could keep up and running.

Often, water is overlooked because businesses don’t realise the responsibilities they have.

Top tip! As a quick rule, you’re responsible for all the pipework and water infrastructure that’s inside your property boundaries – so if there’s a leak in your premises that’s causing you a loss of water supply, it’s you who’s got to sort it out. You can find out more about wholesaler, retailer and customer responsibilities here.

What you can do

Check out our tips on what SMEs need to consider for their contingency plan.

We can also provide a contingency planning services for organisations with multiple sites. We’ll be able to offer you a plan that suits your needs and which makes sure you can stay up and running no matter what.

It’s also worth checking out the information on our “no water” page as part of taking steps to be ready for the unexpected.