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Saffron Walden - Water Hardness

What is happening?

Firstly, we apologise for the change to the hardness of your water.

You may be aware that in the past we've supplied your area with water that we partially soften during our treatment process. We realise that people in your area care passionately about the hardness of their water, which is why for many years the additional treatment process was in place. However, the specialised equipment we used has now come to the end of its life – this means that you’ll now receive the natural level of hardness that is common to the town and surrounding areas.

Our teams have looked at alternative ways to continue to partially soften your water.  We're keen to find out more how water hardness affects you, so we can consider options to deliver a better experience for our customers. We provide water to over 3.6 million people across southeast England, an area with naturally occurring hard water, and do not operate additional treatment to soften water anywhere else in our supply area.

We’ve not made this decision lightly. The challenges that climate change, demand for water and a growing population is placing on the whole water industry is immense, and we really do have to make hard choices where investments are made to ensure long-term sustainable and resilient water supplies for our customers, whilst taking care of our environment.

 

What does this mean for me?

We know this might not be the message you wanted to hear, but we wanted to reassure you, that whilst your water will now be ‘harder’ that what you’re used to, it’s frequently tested by our team of samplers and is still perfectly safe to drink and use as normal.

The water across most of Southeast England is naturally hard and there’s some evidence to suggest that hard water is good for your health, as it can provide many of the natural minerals that your body needs*.

*Source: DWI

Water hardness scale

 

 

Frequently asked questions

  • Why are you not continuing to soften the water?

    We’re working hard to adapt to a changing climate and to provide a long-term sustainable supply of high-quality water for a growing population, whilst leaving more water in the environment.

    This means that sometimes, we have to make tough choices on where we prioritise the investments we make in our network.

    Our teams have looked at alternative ways to continue to partially soften your water.  We're keen to find out more how water hardness affects you, so we can consider options to deliver a better experience for our customers. We provide water to over 3.6 million people across southeast England, an area with naturally occurring hard water, and do not operate additional treatment to soften water anywhere else in our supply area.

  • What are you investing in to improve the water network?

    We supply over 3.6 million people and families with clean and reliable water for about 1p per 10 litres. And we continuously invest to keep our services running throughout the year.

    In 2021/2022, we’re set to invest £174 million to keep your taps flowing with high-quality drinking water you can rely on. We’ll be investing in innovative technology to drive down leakage, with an ambition to have reduced leakage by 20% by 2025. We're replacing pumps to make them more efficient, installing innovative technology to help us detect problems faster and finding new and more sustainable ways to move your water from source to tap.

    Not only will this help to guarantee we have enough water to meet future demand, it’ll also help to protect our beautiful and rare local chalk streams.

  • What will happen to the water that fed the Fulfen Slade?

    The treatment plant will no longer be releasing the occasional flow of water to the Fulfen Slade. This small loss of outflow won’t have any detrimental effect on the environment and flow of water to the River Cam.

  • What is hard water?

    Rainwater is soft water. After it falls on the ground, it passes through the underlying rocks. Small amounts of naturally occurring minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, dissolve into it. This is then what is known as ‘hard’ water.

    Most of our water supplies are from groundwater, taken directly from this part of the rock known as an aquifer. There is some evidence to suggest that hard water is good for your health* as it can provide many of the natural minerals that your body needs.

  • What does hard water do?

    When you heat water, hard water produces a small amount of ‘limescale’ and so hot water systems, kettles, electric irons and domestic appliances are particularly prone to ‘scaling up’.

    Hard water can also leave ‘tide marks’ on sinks, baths and toilets and a residue on the surface of hot drinks, especially tea brewed in the cup with a teabag (this is due to the natural tannins in the tea).

    None of this is harmful, but we appreciate you may not think it looks nice.

    You can find out more about hard water here.

  • What should I do?

    There are lots of easy ways you can reduce the limescale from your water. These include:

    • Changing the settings on your dishwasher or water softener device by following the appliance instructions. This changes the amount of salt used during its use to counteract the amount of minerals in the water.
    • Use water softening/limescale prevention tablets in your washing machine. This will improve the wash results plus provide protection to the inside of your machine, which will prolong its life.
    • Use a water filter for your drinking water and to fill your kettle and iron with, or get a kettle with a built-in filter, which will make a clearer cup of tea.
    • Use a de-scaler for your shower head, iron and kettle if you notice any limescale build up.
    • Clear off the water droplets from your shower screen after use with a squeegee. This will leave it looking clear from residue.

    You can also consider installing a domestic water softener. This may be an option if you have dry skin or have certain skin conditions. We’re unable to offer advice on makes or types of water softener and recommend that you contact a Watersafe plumber, plus get some independent advice.

    If you’re thinking of installing a water softener, we’d recommend you keep a separate un-softened mains fed tap for cooking and drinking purposes, as most softeners replace the calcium and magnesium with sodium. This can be a particular problem for babies and for people who are on a low sodium (low salt) diet. Artificially softened water may also be more aggressive to plumbing, causing increased leaching of copper and lead into water as it stands in the pipework.

    You can find out more here.

  • How do you check my water is safe?

    We’re committed to supply high quality drinking water and providing an excellent service to our customers and communities. Our treatment facilities use some of the latest technology and sophisticated monitoring systems to ensure we provide water of a high standard whenever you turn on your tap.

    You can find out more about the water quality in your area here.

  • Can I get compensation for problems with my appliances?

    We understand that it can be inconvenient when appliances stop working, there are many reasons why this happens and unfortunately, we’re unable to offer any compensation. There are some things you can do to help reduce the build-up of limescale in your appliances, such as using water filters and water softening tablets.

  • I’m not happy with the water quality, will you adjust my bill?

    There used to be a separate charge on your bill for the water softening. Since 2014, we haven’t asked you or your neighbours in the area to pay for this, so there isn’t anything for us to change on your bill.

  • How can I keep up to date?

    To stay updated with information about your water supply and any upcoming work in your area, please check that the mobile number and email we have for you are the best ones to reach you on. Or you can do this on My Account.

  • I have more questions, can I ask someone else?

    We want to understand the impact of this and what this means to you and your neighbours. We’re holding an online event so that we can listen to you and help answer any questions you may have.

    The live online events are on Tuesday 20th April at 12.30-1.30pm and 7pm-8pm and we very much hope that you can join us. You can register and see more details here.

    Please use the form at the bottom of this page to submit any questions for the live event.

Submit your questions

If you've registered for our online event and would like to send us a question in advance, please send it to us by 12pm on Monday 19th April using the form below:

Fields marked with * are mandatory.

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Chat to us via WhatsApp

Click the button below to chat to us. Alternatively, add our number 07971013368 to your phone contacts (WhatsApp text messaging only).

We are available to chat about a water supply problem between 8am-6pm Monday-Friday.

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