Tuesday, 15 December 2015

United Utilities bill amnesty for flooded customers

Water bills will be suspended for customers who have been forced from their homes due to storm Desmond, United Utilities confirmed last week.

The North West company will suspend all charges for those who have to move out of flood hit properties, until customers are able to move back in.

The announcement came after floods caused by Storm Desmond devastated Lancaster homes and businesses, despite recent upgrades to the town's sewer system which caused traffic chaos in the city centre for months last year.

Enormous sewer pipes and underground storage tanks the size of Olympic swimming pools were carved out deep underground, what United Utilities described as "one of the biggest engineering schemes Lancaster has ever seen".

The vast £18 million project aimed to enhance the city’s sewer system, in order to reduce river pollution - but not, it appears, flooding.

A number of wastewater treatment sites were affected by flooding, including wastewater treatment works at Carlisle, Kendal, Garstang and Lancaster.

All Lancaster homes had water again after power was restored by 8th December, allowing water pumps to be brought back on line.

Bill adjustments will also be made for customers who need to use more water than usual for the big clean-up.

The support applies to households and businesses in flood affected areas.

The company is asking customers who have been forced to move out to make contact on the following numbers:

Domestic customers: 0800 912 7239

Business customers: 0345 072 6072

Customers will need to supply a temporary address along with the address of their empty, flood affected property.

Sally Ainsworth, Head of Customer Experience for United Utilities said: "The last thing customers forced from their properties need to worry about is paying for services they can't use.

"That's why we are suspending water and sewerage charges for customers who have had to move out of flooded homes and businesses until customers are ready to move back in.

"We'll also adjust bills for customers on water meters to cover any spike in water usage during the big clean-up this month. For example, if customers in flooded areas need to use hoses on paths and driveways, we'll support customers to get these adjustments made to their bills as quickly as possible."

It is estimated that 7,000 households and companies have been forced from their properties by flooding in Cumbria and Lancashire.

Engineers from United Utilities have been working around the clock since the weekend to maintain water supplies in flood hit areas. The company is now engaged in an extensive clean-up and repair process.

• Details can be found at www.unitedutilities.com

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