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Sensitive Customers Policy

This policy sets out the procedure that Southern Water will follow for identifying and dealing with sensitive customers in the non-household (NHH) market, in order that a responsive service can be provided in the event of an incident.


In the event of a supply interruption our timescales for delivery of alternative supplies are wholly dependent on the extent of the incident and our most vulnerable customers affected on a priority basis. The supply of bottled water or a tanker would not always be immediate and will be assessed by our alternative supply teams in the initial stages of an incident .

None of the categories outlined in the table below should rely on an alternative supply from us and business continuity measures should be implemented. There may be occasions in which we cannot guarantee a continuous uninterrupted supply. The list is for illustrative purposes only and is not exhaustive.


The provisions of the Security & Emergency Measures Direction 1998 (SEMD) cover the requirements of customers during an unplanned emergency i.e. Loss of water supply or sewerage services. The type of alternative provision is dependent upon the scale of the incident.

Whilst we do everything to maintain a consistent supply of water to our customers, there are occasions where we are unable to provide additional support. We expect businesses to reasonably protect themselves in the event of a loss of supply situation to help mitigate risk and prevent loss of business operations and issues that arise from this.

The statutory levels of compensation available from the GSS scheme may not be sufficient to cover the costs of any lost production should a business need to suspend/restart production. It is therefore important that customers understand the limitations of alternative supplies as set out above and in circumstances where business process rely intrinsically upon a constant supply of water, then it is imperative that customer’s business continuity plans take account of this requirement.

Non-household business customers may consider a range of options to ensure business continuity in a situation where supplies are lost. Business continuity solutions may suggest having the use of one or more of the following solutions in place to mitigate any interruptions to supply.

  • On site storage (capacity required to operate for a defined number of hours)
  • Provision of emergency tankered water supplies (private contractor)
  • Borehole supplies
  • Wastewater recycling/grey water recovery options

In summary it is important to understand the priority that wholesalers will apply to supplies in the first instance and that for some businesses the need to have a comprehensive business continuity plan may be justified in order to minimise the risk of lost production due to even a very short disruption to a mains supply.

*Alternative sewerage services would be deployed following approval by the appropriate incident manager giving due consideration to the severity of the incident.

Retailers should discuss with their customers whether they can be classified as a sensitive customer. If it is agreed that they should be, the retailer can set a flag in the centrally held market data that we as a wholesaler will use for unplanned events and incidents.  The available three classifications can be (i) Sensitive Site (SEMDV), (ii) Public Health Related Site-Specific Arrangements or (iii) Non-Public Health Related Site-Specific Arrangements.  There is a free descriptor box in addition to setting these flags where more details can be given on the vulnerability or special requirements of the site.  For example, a livestock farm could be classified with a Non-Public Health Related Site-Specific Arrangements Flag and additional information can be given of the number of herd of cattle.  This will aid the wholesaler in planning for alternative water provision for the farm.

Please see the Southern Water’s Guidance document on Site Specific Arrangement for Sensitive Sites here to understand what information is needed by Southern Water in setting up NHH customers as sensitive sites.

Where site specific arrangements / sensitive site arrangements are in place, these plans will be instigated as per our incident management plans.