If you wish to supply water to non-household premises, you must be licensed by the Water Services Regulation Authority (Ofwat).
There are two types of licence you may apply for:
- retail licence: lets you to purchase a wholesale supply of water from an appointed water company (known as a water undertaker) in order to supply water to your customers’ premises
- combined licence: lets you use a water undertaker’s supply system (as per a retail licence) and to introduce water into that supply system for the purposes of supplying your customers
Each premises you supply must:
- not be household premises
- be likely to use at least 50 megalitres of water per year
- not be supplied with water by another company with a water supply licence
Before making an application it is recommended that you contact Ofwat for informal advice.
How to apply
You must include the following with your application:
- details about your business
- evidence of your financial and managerial capability, including audited accounts, a business plan and details of the systems and procedures you have in place to comply with statutory duties, licensing conditions and operational standards
- an application fee of £2,000 (for a retail licence) or £2,500 (for a combined licence)
Within 10 working days of receiving written confirmation that your application is valid from Ofwat, you must publish a notice of your application on your website or in such other way that you consider will bring it to the attention of interested parties. You must let Ofwat know that you have published the notice.
The application process will take up to 60 working days, during which time Ofwat will work with you to clarify what you need to do to satisfy the criteria for obtaining a licence.
During this period you will also need to demonstrate to the Drinking Water Inspectorate (DWI) that your water is wholesome at the point of supply. This is achieved by way of paper-based assessment showing that you have an understanding of water supply and water quality issues.
If you are applying for a combined licence you must also demonstrate to DWI that you are aware of your responsibilities with regard to the introduction of potable water into the water supply system, and that you have the resources to meet these.
You will only be granted a licence if your business is a limited company and is not a water or sewerage undertaker.
If your application is successful you will receive a copy of your licence.
The date on your licences will give the date from which the licence comes into effect and will also state that the licence will remain in force unless revoked or terminated by the Secretary of State with not less than 25 years’ notice. The licence will also be subject to a number of standard conditions which you must comply with or risk having your licence revoked.
You will then be able to supply water to customers subject to:
- entering into an access agreement with the relevant water undertaker for retail supply
- completing a detailed technical assessment for DWI before introducing potable water into a water undertaker’s supply system (combined licence holders only if they intend to put their own water into the undertaker’s supply system)
Fines and penalties
If you breach any conditions of your licence, Ofwat may revoke the licence and/or take appropriate enforcement action.