If a supply interruption means you have no water on your construction site, there’s no need to panic. We have produced this simple step by step guide to help you get your water supply sorted, and your construction site back to normal as quickly as possible.
Water is a vital resource for the day-to-day running of construction sites. From site processes such as concrete mixing and dust suppression, to site welfare uses such as kitchen and toilet facilities, it is often not until a supply interruption takes place that we realise just how much we rely on water to keep construction projects going.
If you’re faced with an unexpected interruption to your water supply, this guide is for you.
Step-by-Step Guide: What to Do if you have No Water
Step 1: Call your Water Utility Company
The first thing to do if you discover you have no water on your building site is to call the local water utility company.
If you’re not sure which company covers the local area, you can find out by entering the post code into the Find Your Supplier tool on the Water UK website.
The utility company should be able to tell you if there is an issue in the local area, and if so, when they expect the supply to be reinstated. This will help you to plan your next steps.
Step 2: Arrange Emergency Site Welfare Facilities
Once you have a rough idea of how long the problem is likely to last, you can arrange a temporary alternative water supply to keep you going until the problem is resolved.
However, it may take a little time to get your temporary supply up and running. In the meantime, workers will still need to have access to toilets, hand washing facilities, and drinking water, so you will need to arrange some emergency welfare facilities for immediate use whilst you arrange your temporary supply.
Toilets & Sinks for Immediate Use
If you are unable to flush any toilets on the construction site, identify some nearby public toilets for workers to use whilst you arrange the temporary water supply.
If there are no public toilets nearby, you can ask permission from the owners of a local establishment for workers to use their toilets for a short time whilst you make other arrangements.
Drinking Water for Immediate Use
For drinking water, the quickest option to keep you going for a short time will likely be to get some bottled water.
For larger sites, you can order bottled water via the pallet to be delivered the same day, or if it is a small site, it may be sufficient to go to a local shop and purchase some bottled water.
Once you have arranged emergency toilets and drinking water for immediate use, you will need to ensure everyone on the site is aware of the situation and knows how to access these facilities.
In addition to explaining the situation verbally, it is worth reinforcing the message via signage. This could be as simple as a handwritten sign taped to a tap or a toilet door. The sign should explain that the facility is currently out of order as there is a problem with the water supply, but that you are working to get it sorted. It should also include details of the alternative provisions – ie where the bottled water is located, or where they can go to use the toilets.
Step 3: Work Out What you Need
With your emergency welfare provisions in place, you are now able to arrange a temporary water supply. To do this, you will need to work out how much water you will need. It may help to make a note of the following information:
Make a quick list of the things you usually need water for on-site. This should include:
- Site welfare facilities – eg toilets, kitchens, drinking water etc
- Any site processes you had planned that involve water – eg dust suppression, piling & drilling, site remediation etc.
Also jot down the following details:
- On average, how many people will be on-site each day?
- Roughly how long do you expect to be without your usual water supply?
As a general rule, the British Standard guidelines recommend allowing 60 litres of water per person, per day on an average construction site that doesn’t have a canteen. In some instances this may be on the higher side of what you will actually need, but it should help to give you a rough idea of quantities.
Once you have this information, you can do a simple calculation to work out an estimation of how much water you will need:
60 Litres x People x Days
As an example, if you have 10 people on-site each day, and you know you will have no water for approximately 3 days, the calculation would be:
60 (litres) x 10 (people) x 3 (days) = 1,800 (litres).
Therefore you know that you will need approximately 1,800 litres of water.
Note: Drinking water stored in water tanks should be replaced every 7 days in order to adhere to the BS8551 health & safety code of practice.
Step 4: Consider your Options
Now that you have a general idea of how much water you might need, you can consider the various options available for a temporary water supply.
Option 1: Fill Up your On-Site Water Tank
If you already have an empty water storage tank on site, you can arrange for a company like Water Direct to come and fill it up with drinking water for you from a tanker.
Once you have used up the water in the tank (or 7 days from the initial delivery, whichever comes first) you could arrange more deliveries as often as required to top up your tank.
Note: It is always best to arrange your top-up deliveries when you realise the water level is getting low, rather than waiting until all the water has been used up. This will prevent you from being without water whilst you wait for your delivery.
Option 2: Hire a Water Tank
If you don’t have one on-site, you can hire a water tank filled with water, and arrange for the water to be topped up with additional tanker deliveries as needed.
In order to adhere to BS8551 health & safety regulations, ensure that any drinking water that is stored in water tanks is replaced every 7 days.
If you don’t use all the water in the tank by the end of the 7 days, any remaining unused water will need to be drained away and replaced with fresh water. If you use up the water before the 7 days, you can always order more.
If all goes well and your usual water supply is reinstated, you won’t need to arrange any further deliveries and the tank will be collected by the company you hired from.
Therefore, the most cost effective solution will be to hire a water tank with a capacity that is as close to your water usage as possible.
Using the earlier example of a site requiring 1,800 litres, the most cost effective option would be to hire a tank with a capacity of approximately this size, so opt for a water tank that holds around 1,800 litres, rather than a tank that holds 10,000 litres.
Option 3: Bulk Deliveries of Bottled Water
It may also be worth considering placing a bulk delivery of bottled water to top up your drinking water supplies. Water bottles can be purchased by the pallet, and will need to be stored somewhere away from direct sunlight.
Step 5: Arrange Your Temporary Supply
Once you have decided on your preferred temporary supply, all that is left to do is make a call to a water delivery company.
If you’re not sure what type of temporary supply is right for your construction site, you can call Water Direct on 0345 345 1725, and we would be happy to chat through your requirements and options.
Hopefully your normal water supply will be up and running soon, but we’re here if you need us. In the meantime, you may also be interested in reading one of our other construction-related posts below.