Water Redress Scheme
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:
WATRS is guided at all times by the following core principles:
It must be independent of water companies and any other stakeholder (e.g. a consumer advocate) with a conflict of interest.
It must be able to take a neutral, objective and balanced view, and deliver outcomes based on clear policy/rules.
It must undertake analysis and make decisions proportionate to the scale and nature of the problem.
It must ensure that decisions are clear and consistent from case to case.
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.
It will meet its objectives and do so in a way that provides value-for-money through cost-effective, timely delivery.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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.
You may wish to contact the following organisations:
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.
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.
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.