Don't Pay for Dirty Water - Extinction Rebellion UK

Don’t Pay for Dirty Water

Why are we doing this?

1,091 times a day – that’s how often sewage was discharged into UK waterways in 2022. [1]

£1.4 billion! That’s how much water companies paid shareholders in the same period. That’s your money. We’re paying through the nose and it is making us sick!

Enough is enough. Why pay for a service we’re not getting? If you are sick of sewage destroying ecosystems, join thousands taking a stand around the country. 


Extinction Rebellion UK, and the Dirty Water campaign have teamed up to support the UK-wide wastewater bill boycott. 

Find out below how to do this quickly and with as little risk as possible – they can never cut off your water supply. You are not alone – we are stronger together. Hundreds are already boycotting – let’s get to 10,000!

Join the Boycott

Many have already stopped paying without any consequences

There are three things to do right now and it will only take a few minutes to get started. 

The steps below have been designed to make the process as safe as possible and info about risks and how others are dealing with them is included throughout. 

  1. Don’t pay the sewerage part of your bill.
  1. Tell them why you won’t pay by following an official complaints process

    While a complaint is in dispute no debt collection should happen. If necessary, you should have the opportunity to pay any outstanding balance at the end of the process – and then start the process again! The idea is for thousands to drag this out to create the greatest economic incentive for companies to clean up their act. 
  1. Be counted by filling out the form below – and get updates on the campaign and ways to connect with other bill boycotters near you.

Build the boycott. Share on social media and in your local area. The more who join the boycott the quicker we win! 


1. Don’t pay

Stop automatically paying your bill: visit your bank / online bank and cancel your water company’s direct debit or standing order. Your bills will now need to be paid individually. It is possible but more complicated to stay on a direct debit but reduce the amount manually.

Your next bill should arrive by post or email with a breakdown of charges for water supply and for wastewater/sewerage charges. If it doesn’t, you may need to contact your water company for an itemised bill. 

Pay ONLY the water supply part of your bill either by bank transfer or over the phone.

2. Tell them why you won’t pay

Our three-step complaints process can protect you and gives all strikers a collective basis to resist further consequences and push for more action to clean up our water!

You only need to do step one today!

1. File a formal complaint to your water company

Make a formal complaint in writing to your water company, stating that you have stopped paying the sewerage charges on your bill, because you dispute it’s accuracy. 

Insist in your communication that while you are disputing this part of your bill they should not chase you for payment or refer your case to a debt collection agency.

After making the complaint, keep in touch with your supplier. Your supplier should reply to you within 10 working days (otherwise you are eligible for £20 compensation). Contact them periodically to make sure they still have your case defined as a dispute (not a general enquiry) and that it is still “open for investigation” (which means they should not chase you for payment). 

You are likely to receive a response from your supplier rejecting your complaint or dispute. Ask them to review their decision. That gives them another 10 days to resolve your complaint.

Meanwhile, you should prepare to escalate your complaint…

2. Escalate your complaint

First, inform your supplier you are taking your complaint to the Consumer Council for Water (CCW)
If your supplier informs you that your complaint has been resolved, ask them to confirm that it has passed “stage 2” of the complaints process. If it has, use our template letter to inform them that you are escalating to the Consumer Council of Water (CCW). Insist they put a hold on the account while the complaint is being investigated by CCW.

Second, complain to the Consumer Council of Water (CCW)
Fill out the CCW online complaints form, using this template for the “how can we help?” box. If you are not satisfied with the response from the CCW, you can take it to the next stage.

Third, apply for adjudication to the Dispute Resolution Ombudsman (DSO)
This stage is only available through the CCW, and is a recent change – previously it was operated by the Water Redress Scheme, but this no longer exists.

Fourth, if you are not satisfied with the DRO outcome you can complain to OFWAT
Fill out the OFWAT online form, using this template to prepare your complaint.

3. Celebrate and start again

If you reach the end of the complaints process and your only option is to pay the outstanding balance – or if you feel the need to stop your boycott at any point – it is easy to pay the balance and you can start all over again! 

For as long as we are doing it together we are making a big impact! 

You can also choose to continue non-payment. At this point, you may receive letters from debt collectors or be threatened with legal action e.g. a request for a  County Court Judgement . Your protest is legitimate and we are here to support you.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can they shut off my water? 

No. Legally, water companies are not allowed to cut off domestic households if they don’t pay their bills.

2. What do I do if my supplier or a debt collector contacts me for payment during the complaints process?
While a complaint is in dispute no debt collection should happen. 

Respond to any outstanding payment requests from your supplier with “my complaint is still in dispute”. 

If you are contacted by a debt collector, they might flood you with letters, calls, texts, and email – they are trying to intimidate you into giving up. Don’t be intimidated! Call them back straight away (don’t delay otherwise the flood gets worse). Clearly (and politely) state the following:

  • They shouldn’t have this case, it has been incorrectly handed over to them.
  • You are disputing the accuracy of your bill and the complaint is currently under investigation by your supplier / CCW / DRO / OFWAT.
  • While the complaint remains unresolved you do not expect to be contacted by a debt collection agency.
  • They should refer the case back to the water company

If they refuse, state categorically that this guidance is laid down by OFWAT and CCW clearly state that the debt collection agency must refer the case back to the water company.

3. Can I do this if I’m a tenant?
If you are a tenant please be aware that in some circumstances the owner of the property can be responsible for the bill jointly with the occupier and the company might try to recover the money from the owner. You should check with them first.

4. What action is the water company legally entitled to take?
According to the Citizens Advice Bureau, your water company may:

  • Send reminder notices. Final notice gives you seven days to pay (if you have more than one unpaid water bill, you should get separate reminder notices for each bill)
  • Telephone you to ask for payment
  • Pass your debt to a debt recovery agent
  • As a last resort, the company could take you to court to get a county court judgement (CCJ) to recover the money you owe. You may then get a notice of enforcement from a firm of bailiffs telling you they are going to come round. If they come, they could take goods to sell to pay the money you owe. However, to date (November 2023) after more than 2 years of boycotting, not one of the boycotters we know has been taken to court or had a CCJ issued against them.  

5. Will it harm my credit score?
While your complaint is outstanding, there is no basis for your supplier to mark down your credit score. However, the credit score system is not transparent and we cannot say for certain that companies do not have automatic systems linked to non-payment. You will be part of a community of active boycotters learning and supporting each other. 

If your credit score has been affected by taking this action, get in touch immediately by emailing

3. Be Counted

Polluting our waters for profit is disgusting, harmful and unacceptable. It’s time to turn off the money tap!

Hundreds have already committed. Join them.

4. Join Your Local Boycott Group

Here are WhatsApp chats to help you with information sharing and support.

DP4DW Community Announcement Channel:

Chats for each water company local boycott

5. Help build the boycott

The more of us who boycott, the more impactful and safer we are.

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