How to get a new water connection for my business

The British water and wastewater networks are owned and managed by regional wholesalers. Our guide sets out the process for connecting a new commercial property to these networks so your business can start using water and wastewater services.

What is a water connection?

A water connection is used when a commercial property is first built and wants to use the clean water and sewerage services provided by the regional water wholesaler.

The water wholesaler in your region operates a network of water mains, large pipes that supply clean water, which usually follow the road network. A water connection is where new communication pipes are laid, which connect the water mains pipes to your business property.

Water mains pipes connection
It’s a similar process for the wastewater network where a new communication pipe connects the wastewater mains to the drainage pipes of your new commercial property.

You do not need to arrange for a new water connection when you have moved to an existing property already connected to a water and wastewater network. In this situation, you can instead choose a business water supplier in the open water market.


Who provides a new water connection?

There are two choices for water connection providers.

Your local water wholesaler

This is the business that already owns and operates the mains network in the region around your new business property.

You can find out who is the local water wholesaler in your region here. Each regional wholesaler publishes water connection rates that they will charge for new properties.

The fee will depend on the length and size of the new communication pipes required and the type of surface excavated and reinstated.

Accredited self-lay provider

An accredited self-lay provider is a licensed third party that can connect new properties to the mains network.

Accredited self-layers have the advantage of being able to arrange for multiple utility connections to your property as a single project. Given the need to lay new pipework for gas, electricity and broadband services, it often makes sense for one company to manage all utility connections for your project.

Self-layers must be accredited with the Water Industry Registration Scheme so that the water wholesaler will agree to them making connections to the network.

What’s the process when a new water connection is installed?

The start of the process is to gain permission from the local water wholesaler for the water and wastewater connection through a water connection application. Water wholesalers must ensure that your request does not jeopardise existing supplies to other businesses and households in the area. As part of the application process, businesses will need to select a business water supplier for your property.

Upon being granted permission for the connection, the work can proceed on connecting your property to the mains.

If your new property is close to an existing water main (usually on the nearest road), a communication pipe will be laid on the shortest route from the main to the boundary of your property.

A stopcock valve and water meter will be installed on the property boundary to measure the amount of water being used by your property.

If there is no water main near your property, then a new water main may need to be constructed. This is often the case where a new road is being built for commercial development properties.

What are the charges for a new water connection?

The charges for a water connection will generally include:

Administrative costs – Costs incurred in processing the application for a new water connection.

Connection fees – The costs that involve laying new pipes work infrastructure to your property.

Meter fees – Fees for the installation of a water meter.

Excess excavation charges – Charges for each additional meter of pipework that is required to be laid.

Traffic management charges – Charges levied by the highway authority for traffic disruption and/or traffic management during the new water connection.

Water regulation inspections – Inspections of your water systems before activating the new connection.

Design fees – A review of the current water mains layout and plans for changes required given the new property connection.

Infrastructure charges – A charge for network reinforcement work, if required, so the water or wastewater system can handle the additional demand being placed due to your water connection.

Requisition charge – Where your water connection requires a new or extended water main.

Can I dispute water connection charges?

Water connection charges can be complex. If you don’t agree with your water wholesaler’s proposed fees, you should initially complain directly to your water wholesaler. Each water wholesaler has a process for reviewing complaints and are required by the regulator to provide clear explanations for the charges they are levying.

A dispute of charges can be further escalated to the Consumer Council for Water.