Coronavirus isn’t stopping water flowing and toilets flushing.

Eastern Daily Press: The Anglian Water team is still out fixing leaks and blockages, to keep your services running smoothly Pictures: Anglian WaterThe Anglian Water team is still out fixing leaks and blockages, to keep your services running smoothly Pictures: Anglian Water (Image: Archant)

Every business and many services are affected by the coronavirus, but Anglian Water is making sure customers don’t see any change in service. Turn on a tap and there’s fresh, clean water; flush the loo and... well, let’s not go into detail but flushing still works. If for any reason it doesn’t – or if there’s a problem with the drinking-water supply – Anglian Water is still ready to respond straight away.

Anglian Water is one of the biggest utility companies in the UK, serving more than four million people across the region, with a network of more than 38,000km of water main delivering more than a billion litres of water every day. It has a huge staff – and not one of them has been furloughed. They’re all working from home or out on the road, fixing problems, having adapted to safe social distancing procedures.

It’s still incredibly simple to get in touch with Anglian Water: the 300-plus staff of the Lincoln customer contact centre are all still available at the end of a phone, whether you need to report a leak, a blockage or talk to them about your bill.

They can also be reached through live chat on the website, via social media, email, post or through the Anglian Water phone app.

Eastern Daily Press: Sam RossSam Ross (Image: Archant)

Some customers may need more help than others, but they should join the Priority Services Register – especially during the coronavirus lockdown. “Though it’s unlikely that supply would be interrupted, we don’t want those customers putting themselves at risk by going out to get bottled water,” explains customer strategy manager Sam Ross. “We can reach out to them and supply what they need.”

As well as looking after individual customers directly, Anglian Water has made £1 million available to community support groups for the fight against coronavirus, through its Positive Difference Fund. That’s in addition to the £1 million Assistance Fund already available to help customers struggling to pay their bills.

“We have seen an increase in calls about bills,” says Sam. “We’re able to reassure people and alleviate the stress about whether they can pay their bills. We have a number of strategies they can use, from flexible payment plans to short-term or long-term payment holds.”

Whether you’re a vulnerable customer, worried about paying your bill, or you think you’ve spotted a water leak, get it touch with Anglian Water as normal. It’s as easy as ever and, though behind the scenes it may not quite be business as usual, it is still very much service as usual.

To call Anglian water, ring 03457 919155

To join the Priority Services Register, click here.

To report a leaking or burst water main, click here.

For help paying your bill, click here.

For anything else, click here.

ID checks

It’s unlikely that anyone from Anglian Water will knock on your door without you having been contacted first. Always ask to see ID – staff will be happy to show it. If in doubt, call the contact centre on 0800 145 145. They can can confirm if work is being done in your area. Nobody wants bogus callers pretending to be “from the water board” taking advantage of the lockdown to burgle houses.

How the teams in the field have adapted to keep Anglian Water’s services running smoothly:

Chris Wray, water recycling network manager

My team looks after the network between the house and the sewage works. Our guys are at home until they’re called out – sometimes in response to a call from a customer, sometimes because a telemetry alarm indicates there’s a blockage.

We deal with anything from blockages affecting a single house to ones affecting entire estates. We have to react fast to stop things escalating from a blockage to flooding, with sewage running over the road.

A lot of blockages are caused by wipes – they really shouldn’t be going down the toilet. Even if wipes don’t block your house, they could cause a blockage that floods your neighbours.

Mark Pryke, network services manager

We’re the fast-response team, working 24/7 to keep the water flowing and at the right quality. Our aim is to get a technician on site quickly whenever there’s a report of a burst main – whether it’s from a customer calling in or our telemetry identifying a leak.

Our repair teams are generally two people, so we have to set them up as though they’re family members: they may need to work closely together, but they work only with one other person. We’re restricting access to our depots, as we don’t want lots of workers turning up at the same time.

As the roads are quieter we can respond to calls faster and there’s much less impact on customers when we have to put up traffic lights or shut streets.

Chris Skingsley, leakage delivery manager

Our job is to do the proactive leak finding – my job is to make sure Mark doesn’t have work to do, by stopping leaks before they happen. The leaks we find aren’t visible because the water isn’t making it to the surface.

Our work really is essential. If we put things off now, it’ll just push problems further down the line. The work we do in spring and autumn take the pressure off peak periods of summer and winter.

We’re very proud of what we do. Across Anglian Water there’s a team of about 200 working on leakage and last year we stopped more than 15,000 leaks. We’re the leading water company for leakage – the best in the business.