We like to think of the water supply as the lifeblood of a building, along with electricity and gas. The water supply is fundamental to making the structure liveable, and as a fundamental need, should be considered at the beginning of the project – or risk complications further down the line.
This is because connecting a water supply to a new or brownfield site can be complex. In England and Wales, there are 32 private companies supplying water and sewage services. These companies are regulated by Ofwat, which is an arm’s length government department. Meanwhile, in Scotland, the publicly-owned company Scottish Water manages the sewage and water supply.
The water authority takes responsibility for the supply as far as the meter. Then, it’s down to the contractors to ensure all the pipework can cope with demand. These days, we’re becoming increasingly accustomed to high pressure, high volume supplies, so you need to make sure everything is effectively planned and installed.
Investigating the water supply
If you’re working on a plot with no history of construction, connecting services to the site can be costly. Even some conversions or brownfield sites can pose difficulties, as historic water infrastructure can be unreliable or unhealthy. For instance, lead or corroded steel piping can contaminate the water.
Therefore, you need to investigate the water supply. Nowadays, water meters are generally located in the pavement at the property boundary. If you’re not sure if there is one, you need to commission a CON29DW Drainage and Water report. This will map out the supply in the local area, indicating where the nearest water main is located.
Before contacting the water authority
Before applying for a new water supply, you need to make sure you have the relevant data. This will make the whole process much more straightforward. A key piece of information you’ll obtain from your investigation; the exact location of the nearest water main.
Then, the contractor needs to know what size pipe they require, which will be dictated by the distance the water main is from the property. You’ll also need to ensure you have permission to traverse someone else’s land if their property separates you from the water main.
Being precise about when you need the water supply to be connected is essential. Thus, project management is key. For instance, if you need a temporary supply during construction, this must be communicated clearly. This might result in a standpipe connection just inside the site boundary before the permanent supply is connected.
Project management is everything
As was the moral of the story in our recent article on connecting your gas and electricity, effective planning is the key. Taking MEP into consideration at the beginning of the project is critical to managing costs and the timeline, and perhaps most importantly, ensuring these essential services run well long term.
Consultants often play an integral role in this effective planning. An experienced MEP consultant will be able to advise you on how to connect the water supply efficiently. They’ll also be able to help you unlock the value in your site, identifying ways to take advantage of existing infrastructure. Undoubtedly, the investment will pay off.