Our staff are working remotely from home so please do not post anything to the office, until further notice. If possible, customers are advised to email applications@watrs.org if they require advice or support. Alternatively, our call handlers are available to assist from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.  Please note that there may be some possible delays in the processing and resolution of cases. We apologise for any inconvenience this may have caused.

What is WATRS?

The Water Redress Scheme (WATRS) adjudicates disputes between the customer and water and sewage companies or suppliers which have reached a state of deadlock.

WATRS has been designed to complement the mediation and investigation roles of the Consumer Council for Water (CCW). If CCW is unable to settle a customer’s dispute, WATRS will provide a final resolution that is binding upon water and sewage companies. This needs to be done within six months from the date of the CCW closure letter.

WATRS is an adjudication service based entirely on documentary evidence. The appointed Adjudicator will only consider the evidence submitted by the customer and the company and will have no direct contact with the parties to ensure full independence and impartiality.

In reaching their decision, the Adjudicator will consider all relevant law (such as The Water Industry Act 1991 and The Water Supply and Sewerage Services (Customer Service Standards) Regulations 2008), the company’s terms and conditions, the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) and what is most fair and reasonable in light of the circumstances.

Once the decision is issued the customer can decide to accept or reject the findings. If the customer accepts the decision the company is contractually bound to provide the redress ordered by the Adjudicator. If the customer decides to reject the decision the process has no effect on law and the customer is free to pursue their claim through the courts.

In order to achieve a fair and reasonable outcome for both parties to a dispute, WATRS adheres to the following principles:

  • Both the consumer and the company will be treated fairly and proportionately to ensure that neither party is unduly disadvantaged.
  • Adjudicators are independent and will at all times act objectively, promoting neither the position of the consumer nor that of the company.
  • Adjudicators will consider all the evidence presented by the parties, the specific circumstances of the case, and any other information directly relevant to the dispute.
  • Adjudicators shall consider whether it is fair and reasonable to request further information or evidence from either party to a dispute.
  • Equal consideration will be given to the word of the consumer and the word of the company.
  • Adjudicators will consider all relevant law, the company’s terms and conditions, the Guaranteed Standards Scheme (GSS) and any other relevant policy document.
  • Full reasons for any decision will always be provided.

WATRS is guided at all times by the following core principles:

  • Independence   

It must be independent of water companies and any other stakeholder (e.g. a consumer advocate) with a conflict of interest.

  • Fairness and impartiality

It must be able to take a neutral, objective and balanced view, and deliver outcomes based on clear policy/rules.

  • Proportionality   

It must undertake analysis and make decisions proportionate to the scale and nature of the problem.

  • Consistency   

It must ensure that decisions are clear and consistent from case to case.

  • Transparency

It must ensure that decisions are public so that they are seen to be made without prejudice; highlight systemic failings in policy or practice; have a deterrent effect and drive service improvements. The process must, however, maintain the confidentiality of individual complainants.

  • Effectiveness

It will meet its objectives and do so in a way that provides value-for-money through cost-effective, timely delivery.

  • Accountability 

It must be monitored and tested to ensure that it delivers efficient and effective outcomes for consumers, and that it is accountable to its users and the water industry.

  • Accessibility 

It must be available to all eligible complainants and easily available to consumers with different needs through the most appropriate channel (for example telephone, e-mail, website and letter); and it must ensure that its role is made clear so that consumers understand the process and know who to contact.

Please note that all companies who are part of the WATRS scheme pay towards its cost as there is no cost to the consumer. 

You can read our downloads to the left for help, or contact our team. 

Consumer Council for Water (CCW)

Visit the CCW website for further information, help and advice about your water and sewerage service or supplier. Alternatively, you can email CCW at enquiries@ccwater.org.uk, call on 0300 034 2222 (England) / 00300 034 3333 (Wales) or write to it at Consumer Council for Water, First Floor, Victoria Square House, Victoria Square, Birmingham, B2 4AJ.


The operation, independence and effectiveness of WATRS is overseen and assured by the WATRS Alternative Dispute Resolution Panel (the ADR Panel) which has been established to ensure the integrity of the Scheme. More details of the ADR Panel's work can be obtained on the Resolving Water Disputes website. 

WATRS Review 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019

WATRS Review Cover Letter, 3rd Review Jan 2018

WATRS Third Review, Jan 2018

ADR Panel Terms of Reference 

You may wish to contact the following organisations:

  • Consumer Council for Water (CCW)
    On 0300 034 2222 (England) or 0300 034 3333 (Wales). Alternatively, you can visit their website at: https://www.ccwater.org.uk/.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB):
    If you need assistance with any legal aspects of the service/complaint. Their website is https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/ and their advice line is 03444 111 444.
  • Resolving Water Disputes:
    More details of the ADR Panel's work can be obtained on the Resolving Water Disputes website. 
  • Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat):
    If your complaint relates to something only the regulator can consider, Ofwat are likely the more appropriate body to contact. Their website is www.ofwat.gov.uk.
  • Information Commissioner's Office (ICO):
    If your complaint relates to any data protection issues, ICO are likely the more appropriate body to contact. Their website is www.ico.org.uk, or you can call them on 0303 123 1113.

The steps you must take before submitting a complaint

Step 1.

The customer makes a complaint to the company directly and if the company isn’t able to resolve the dispute the matter is referred to CCW for mediation and/or investigation. All cases relating to household consumers must go first to CCW before moving to the next stage of the process. However, for non-household consumers the case can be referred directly to WATRS.

Step 2.

If CCW are unable to settle the dispute, the customer can apply to WATRS for independent adjudication. WATRS receives and reviews the application form and evidence/information provided and sends the application to the company to respond to the application.

Step 3.

Once the complete case file is received, an independent adjudicator makes a final decision based on the available information. The customer can then decide whether to accept or reject the adjudicator’s final decision. If the customer accepts, the company has to do what the adjudicator has said.

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