Business Water Guide


In April 2017 England joined Scotland in opening its business water market for competition. This meant non-household customers no longer had to buy their water and wastewater services from their regional wholesaler. Instead, they can shop around for the best deal.

In this Business Water Guide we'll explain how the water market works, important water regulations to be aware of, the importance of meter readings and much more.

How the Water Retail Market Works

In this section, we'll explain how the water retail market works and what this means for you and your business.

What does a retailer do?

Retailers play the part of the 'middle man' between customers and wholesalers. Their services include meter reading, billing, payments, water efficiency services, and customer support.

What does a wholesaler do?

Wholesalers manage the supply and treatment of water and wastewater. They manage any network issues, conduct work on meters, and deal with emergencies.

Why do we need retailers?

The introduction of competition to the water market has allowed customers to switch suppliers for the best value rates, improved services, and increased water efficiency.

Since retailers are independent from wholesalers, they do not benefit from customers using more water, and can therefore help customers to reduce usage and become more efficient.

At Everflow, we offer a fixed retail fee rather than a percentage mark-up of what you use, so we don't profit if your usage increases. This means we genuinely want to help you to use less water and keep costs down, without having conflicting interests!

How does the open water market work?

The market works in the same way as other open utility markets such as electricity and gas. Retailers buy wholesale services and offer a package to eligible customers (those who are classed as 'non-household': businesses, charities and other public-sector organisations).

Important Water Regulations for Businesses

Experts from wholesaler, Bristol Water, have shared their top 5 tips for avoiding water regulation infringements as a business.

Stop valves with open ends

These can represent a redundant fitting on the system, be used for other purposes which may represent a backflow risk and can result in leakage if letting by.

Hose Union Taps

The risk associated with hoses being submerged in contaminated fluids cannot be mitigated by control measures. Backflow protection arrangements or devices are required to protect against the highest downstream risks.

Showers which incorporate a flexible hose

That may become submerged cannot be mitigated by control measures. Backflow protection arrangements or devices are required to protect against the downstream risk. The backflow protection needs to be suitable for the risk.

Whole site protection

The installation of a suitable backflow prevention device or arrangement is required at the boundary of the site. This provides a level of backflow protection to the network and other users.

Redundant fittings

Redundant fittings constitute a dead leg on the system containing stagnant water.

Fixed Retail Fees: Why We Charge the Way We Do

As a company, we want to make water simple, and we believe in the importance of transparent pricing. On your bills, you'll be able to see a breakdown of all the costs, so you can see exactly what you're being charged for.

You'll notice on page two of your bill that the total cost is made up of:

  • A retail fee
  • Wholesale charges

All retailers in England and Scotland charge a retail fee for their services, as well as the basic wholesale rates for the water you use. The bulk of the bill is for wholesale charges - the amount we pay your local water company for your water and wastewater. The retail fee is the amount that goes to us for the services we offer, like meter readings, billing, and customer service.

The ways retail fees are charged varies between retailers. We charge all of our customers a fixed retail fee, as opposed to a percentage mark-up of the amount you use.

You can find your monthly retail fee on page 2 of your invoice; it's a set charge for the year (agreed in your contract) that is divided up into your monthly bill.

Having a fixed retail fee means that we can work together with you to keep your usage as minimal as possible. We care about helping you keep costs down, and we also care about the sustainable use of water, so we want to help you to ensure you only use the amount of water that you need.

Charging you a fixed retail fee means that we can help you to increase your water efficiency, spot any leaks, and keep your bills down, without having conflicting interests!

The Importance of Meter Readings For Business Water

Having up-to-date meter readings is vital to help you to keep on top of your water usage, to help keep your bills accurate, and to spot any problems as soon as possible.

We aim to read your meter every six months. As well as this, we advise customers to send us reads monthly to ensure we can keep your bills as accurate as possible. If you send us the reading 5 working days before your bill date, we can make sure it is reflected in that month's bill.

Whose Pipes are Whose Responsibility?

To help you to maintain your pipes, and know what to do in an emergency, it's important to know which pipes you're responsible for.

In a nutshell: if the pipes are within the boundary of your property (even if underground and external), they are your responsibility to maintain and fix.

If you want to know a bit more

There are three kinds of pipe:

  • Water mains (these are the large pipes that carry water around the network, and are owned by the wholesaler)
  • Communication pipes (the pipes that carry water between the mains, and the property boundary, and are the wholesaler's responsibility)
  • Supply pipes (the smaller pipes that carry water from the wholesaler's pipes to the property. These are the property owner's responsibility)

If you notice any leaks, it is important that these get fixed as soon as possible. If they're on your property, you'll need to contact a plumber to arrange for a fix. You can find an approved plumber in your area here. If the meter itself is leaking, or if there's a leak on a mains pipe, you'll need to contact your wholesaler's emergency number. You can find that  here.

How to Prevent Blocked Drains

At Everflow Water, we're aware of the inconvenience blocked drains can cause our customers and wholesalers. The road works, the backing up of sewers (and not to mention the smell) can be a real annoyance. So we've put together a few handy tips to reduce your chances of being faced with a blocked drain.

Food Waste

If your company cooks food, especially foods high in grease and fat, the easiest way to reduce the chances of a blocked drain is to avoid pouring leftover scraps / grease down the sinks (or have a grease trap installed to remove fat from water). The fat builds up in the drains and can eventually cause a "fatberg" to form in the pipes from all the congealed grease.

Correct Disposal

Correct disposal is so important, as it's super important for the environment, as without good disposal, bad waste can wind up in the oceans. However, before they can make it there, they can really clog up a drainpipe. Anything such as feminine hygiene products, wet wipes, and nappies! You can save yourself a lot of money in pipework repairs just by investing in proper disposal in all the restrooms in your premises!

Hair in Showers

We're aware that some businesses may offer showers to their employees and customers (such as swimming pools, gyms etc.), and with this comes a potential 'clogger' Hair in a shower has the ability to bunch up and get heavy as more and more wet hairs collect in a drainpipe, eventually causing a blockage (and some very nasty smells). A simple way to combat this is shower guards. A shower guard over a drain is all you need to filter the hair from water...and save yourself from a pretty hairy situation.

Paints and Oils

Running a creative project? Doing some minor refurbishment? Perking up the office with a little paint? While we're all for creativity and improvement, we're not down for a colourful mess in your drains. Paints poured down a drain with water may seem like a simple disposal solution, but the oils and grease inside paints are heavier than water, meaning this can congeal in u-bends and cause back flow...not good for anyone and it's such a simple thing to avoid.

To summarise, these are just some simple things that can be done to avoid unintentional blockages in your businesses drains, but the simplest thing to keep in mind are the 3 Ps. If it's not Pee, Paper or Poop, it shouldn't go down the toilet shoot!

Protecting Against Blockages and Pollution

We'd like to thank Anglian Water how have put some great advice together for customers. We wanted to share some of their advice with all the kitchens, restaurants, cafes and other businesses we provide water to; giving advice of good practice to have your services run as smoothly as possible.

Have Grease Management in Place

After a while waste can block your kitchen drains which could cause flooding and pollution. Make sure you have equipment in place for the type of food you're serving and right for the number of customers you have.


Give refresher talks to stage about not putting food, fat, grease or oils down the drains to avoid blocking pipes. Put up signs as a reminder to staff.

How does the waste end up in the sewer or drains? Can you reduce it?

Food, fat, oil and grease can end up in the drains and sewer from waste going down the kitchen sick, washing machines and dishwashers, work stations and floor mopping, cleaning of ovens, grills and canopy filters.

You can reduce the amount of waste going down the drains by installing fat traps or grease removal units and regularly clean and consider a grease removal service that gives out written notice of disposal. Put waste directly into the appropriate bin, if you do use a sink to wash or rinse plate make sure you have a sink strainer to prevent food from going down the drain.

What Not to Flush

There's a number of things that shouldn't be flushed. A good rule to follow is only flush the three Ps (pee, poo and paper). If you're unsure if you can flush it or not look out for the fine to flush sign on the packaging.

Here's our list of some common things not to flush.

Paper Towels

It seems so long ago the great toilet paper shortage of 2020 and it resulted in people buying paper towels, napkin and other non-flushable household papers to be used and flushed. The reason you should only flush paper with the fine to flush sign is because things like paper kitchen towels don’t break down as easy down the line as regular toilet paper.

Make up wipes or cosmetic wipes or wet wipes

These are have been noted as the worst problem in modern times and have been responsible for half of global blockages because they don’t dissolve. If you’re wanting an alternative make up wipe, look out for reusable microfibre wet wipes – good for the environment and your pocket because to clean them they go in the washing machine.


These are not meant to be flushed as they cause severe problems to the sewerage system because they are not biodegradable. Sometimes they even end up in public waterways which is the last thing you’d want to see whilst out for a walk.

Baby wipes

They aren’t too dissimilar to those wet wipes mentioned earlier, they might feel softer and a little more like they’d dissolve in the water; truth is they don’t.

Cooking oil or grease

Well its cooked and cooled down it goes hard, almost like a rock which can cause problems in pipes.


If you’ve been closed a while and you’re going to do a deep clean you might be tempted to do a deep clean and put bleach down the toilet. Bleach is extremely corrosive and damage your pipes, but it can also react with other substances in your plumbing, creating and releasing toxic fumes. Step away from the bleach.


It’s a complex mixture of pigments and extenders, binders, solvents, and additives. When you’re giving your business premises a refresh you shouldn’t put them down the drain or flush them as some can be considered hazardous waste.

Trade Effluent

Trade effluent is contaminated liquid that is produced in a process carried out at a trade premises.

Lots of businesses produce trade effluent. Some of the most common include chemical manufacturing plants, car washes, swimming pools, and companies involved in food production.

Trade effluent doesn’t include domestic sewage, such as normal kitchen and toilet waste.

As you can imagine, trade effluent discharges vary a lot, both in volume and composition; a launderette will produce a relatively low volume of liquid contaminated with detergents, whilst a manufacturing plant may produce thousands of litres of wastewater contaminated with toxic substances.

This makes it quite complex and means that trade effluent discharges need to be properly assessed and regulated. Since all water is recycled and must flow back to the environment, it is crucial that trade effluent disposal is controlled well, in order to protect both public health and the environment.


Under section 118 of the 1991 Water Industry Act, it is an offence to discharge trade effluent without consent from the water wholesaler, so it’s really important you obtain consent before disposing.

How do I get consent?

Fill in the relevant form below, and email it to us at

The forms can be complicated, so we would recommend using a guide alongside to help you out.

G02 - (permanent trade effluent discharge)
G03 - (temporary trade effluent discharge)

We will contact your wholesaler who will process your application, and we’ll keep you in the loop with updates from them.

If the wholesaler deems the trade effluent unsuitable for discharge into the sewer, they will not issue consent.

You can find out more about wholesaler’s individual policies and enforcement by visiting your wholesaler’s website.

If there’s a change to your process which might affect your trade effluent, contact us as soon as you can so that, if we need to, we can apply for a new consent for you.

How is it charged?

We calculate trade effluent charges by multiplying the volume of discharge by the unit rate.

Your unit rate is calculated using something called the Mogden Formula. It sounds and looks a bit confusing, but it’s basically just adding the different components of the wastewater treatment process together.

Your volume will then either be calculated using meter reads, calculated discharge, or allowances.

It’s a complex mixture of pigments and extenders, binders, solvents, and additives. When you’re giving your business premises a refresh you shouldn’t put them down the drain or flush them as some can be considered hazardous. waste.

Summary of Arrangements

This section explains the arrangements that exist for the management of personal customer data protection in the English water market.

In order for the competitive retail market for non-household water customers in England to function, some customer data needs to be shared with others in the market.

The market is operated centrally by the Market Operator Services Ltd (MOSL). MOSL’s role as market operator is to provide infrastructure, information and governance services to enable customers to switch retailer and for financial settlement to take place between water wholesalers (the companies which treat and distribute water and wastewater supplies) and water retailers (companies like Everflow Water, that manage customer services).

MOSL operates the Central Market Operating System (CMOS), which is the core IT system in the market, which wholesalers and retailers can all access. CMOS manages the electronic transactions involved in switching customers, and some of the data contained in CMOS is personal data. For example, some non-household customers will be sole traders and personal data about them will be held in CMOS.

The personal data held in CMOS is supplied by water companies. It is the responsibility of the organisation that provides the information to make sure it is accurate and kept up to date. MOSL collates that information in CMOS and makes it available to other retailers and wholesalers for the purposes of switching and settlement, as explained above. It is the responsibility of water companies, including Everflow Water, to ensure that only authorised employees are able to access the market system, and that they comply with data protection regulation in their use of this system.

The market is governed by Market Codes which set out obligations and processes for sharing data between water companies and MOSL that are needed for the water retail market to function. Water companies (wholesalers and retailers) and MOSL are required to comply with their obligations in the Market Codes.

Code Subsidiary Document CSD 0301 ‘Data Catalogue’ sets out the data that is held in CMOS and shared between users of CMOS (wholesalers, retailers and MOSL). The processes describing how and when this data is shared are further described in the Market Codes and its Codes Subsidiary Documents. Where data is exchanged bilaterally between wholesalers and retailers, the template forms set out in the Market Codes highlight that these forms may contain personal data. The Market Codes provide that, as Data Controllers, water companies (wholesalers and retailers) and MOSL must:

  • Comply with their obligations under Data Protection Laws;
  • Comply with their obligations relating to Personal Data contained in the Market Codes; and
  • Comply with any mandatory guidance notes published by the Information Commissioner's Office and mandatory Codes of Conduct issued under Article 40 of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

This includes obligations to:

  • Have a nominated contact points for any data protection issues that may arise;
  • Undertake privacy impact assessments, and protect privacy by design;
  • Maintain records of processing;
  • Publish privacy notices;
  • Handle customer requests for their personal data (‘data subject rights requests’);
  • Maintain data security standards; and
  • Report data breaches.

These data protection provisions are set out in Section 15 and Schedule 13 of the Market Arrangements Code (MAC). For more information on these arrangements, please contact