Your privacy matters

Privacy in more detail

Privacy in more detail

How do we collect personal data about you?

We collect and use personal data about you for different purposes. You may give us information by filling in paper forms, on our website, on the telephone, by email or otherwise. The information we collect about you will vary depending on your relationship with us. We may also collect information about you from other sources for example, if you are a tenant your landlord may provide us with your personal data in order to set up your water account at their property.

Why do we need to collect and use your personal data?

The reason we need to collect your personal data will vary depending on what it is being used for. The table below provides examples of the types of data we collect about you, the reason it is collected and how long we keep it for (the retention period).

Example information We may use this for Retention period
Name, postal address, date of birth, marital status, financial and credit card information, household income. Billing purposes. 7 years after the account is closed.
Postal address, telephone number, e-mail addresses. To contact you. 7 years after the account is closed.
Date of birth, customer reference number. To identify you and protect your account  7 years after the account is closed.
Health information, job status, number of children, age of children, receipt of benefits. Any special circumstances you want us to know about. 7 years after the account is closed.
Telephone discussions. For training purposes. 3 years unless the call has been tagged to be kept for longer.
We may note other information on your account that is related to the services we provide to you. To provide you with the excellent customer service you expect. 7 years after the account is closed.

We may also use your personal data to administer, support, improve and develop our business generally and to enforce our legal rights.

We need to collect and use your personal data for a number of purposes and we must have a lawful basis for processing it. This lawful basis will vary depending on how and why we have your personal data, and how we collect it. We have put together the table below to provide you with examples:

Lawful basis for processing Example activities
Activities necessary for the performance of our public tasks as a water company. Arranging and maintaining your supply, billing you, maintaining our infrastructure.
Activities necessary for compliance with a legal or regulatory obligation e.g. Water Industry Act 1991, Ofwat, Consumer Counsel for Water, DWI. Supplying Water and removing Waste Water, providing contact information to Ofwat.
You have provided us with your explicit consent to process the information. Providing support or discount schemes, specific marketing activities.
Activities are within our legitimate business interests. Carrying out market research or customer satisfaction surveys.
To protect your vital interests or someone else’s vital interests. If there is a risk to your household due to a water quality issue or where your water supply may be disrupted.
Fulfilling contractual obligations. Fulfilling private contracts individuals may have with our laboratories.

If we process special category information we must have an additional lawful basis for processing. Special category data we do routinely collect is:

• Health data

This data is processed to provide you with the support you need or inform you about discount schemes.

On rare occasions we may process other Special Category data which includes:

• Information revealing racial or ethnic origin
• Political opinions
• Religious or philosophical beliefs
• Trade union membership
• Genetic or biometric data
• Data concerning your sex life or sexual orientation.

The lawful bases for processing special category data are detailed in the table below and we have provided an example of when this might apply:

Additional lawful basis for processing special category data Example activities
You have provided your explicit consent. Providing support or discount schemes, specific marketing activities.
The processing is necessary to protect your vital interests or someone else’s vital interests. If there is a risk to your household due to a water quality issue or where your water supply may be disrupted.
You have made the information public. You have provided the information publicly on social media.
The processing is necessary for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims. Taking action for failure to pay bills.
The processing is necessary for reasons of substantial public interest. If we suspect fraud on the part of a customer.
The processing being necessary for reasons of public interests in the area of public health. Managing a water quality incident.
What security measures do we implement to protect your personal data?

We have security arrangements in place to guard against unauthorised access, improper use, alteration, destruction or accidental loss of your personal data.

We take appropriate organisational and technical security measures and have rules and procedures in place to ensure that there is no unauthorised access to your personal data.

When we work with third party organisations we require them to assure us of their compliance with our data protection and security requirements. This is further detailed in the contracts we have with them.

When you enter data onto secure areas of our websites, a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is initiated. A SSL is a security device which ensures that any data which you enter is encrypted during transmission over the internet. Encryption means the data is encoded so that it is not legible until such time as we decode it.

No data transmission over the internet can ever be entirely secure. While we do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee its security and you must be aware of this when using our websites.

Our websites may contain links to other websites that are outside of our control. Other websites are not subject to our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policies and so we cannot accept responsibility for their content. We recommend that you take the time to read the Privacy Policies on any other websites which you visit.

We also ensure that where information is required to be transferred out of the EU, we will comply with the law in doing so.


When visiting our websites, you may also be providing us with information via our use of website ‘cookies’. You can find out more about this by reading our Cookie Statement here.

A cookie is a small file of letters and numbers that we store on your browser or the hard drive of your computer. Cookies can contain information that is transferred to your computer’s hard drive.

Our website uses cookies to distinguish you from other users. This helps us to provide you with the excellent customer service you expect when you browse our website and also allows us to improve our site.

We only use cookies which are required for the operation of our website.

Data sharing

Agreements we have with other organisations for sharing information

We have legal requirements for sharing data with Thames Water, Anglian Water and Hartlepool Water who operate in our supply area.

If customers fall behind with their payments and we are unable to locate them to chase their debt we may share their data with credit reference agencies that will help us to track people’s locations for the purpose of collecting debt. The credit reference agencies we use have their own Credit Reference Agency Information Notice (CRAIN). This notice describes how the three main credit reference agencies use and share personal data they receive about you/or your business that is part of or derived from or used in credit activity. Each credit reference agency have reference to this document on their websites which you can view here:


In some instances, if we are unable to recover the debt owed, we may sell your debt to another third party. If we do this, you will be notified of this and of the details of this third party. We will disclose to that third party the minimum personal data about you that is necessary for them to take on that debt. The third party will be the data controller for that personal data, although we will retain copies in accordance with the procedures described earlier.

If you are a “non-household customer” (businesses, charities or public sector), as part of OpenWater we will share your information with Market Operator Services Ltd ("MOSL"). You may find out more about OpenWater here: You may find out more about how MOSL processes your information here:

If you are a “household customer” (a private customer) and a home owner, we may share your contact details with HomeServe. You may find out more about HomeServe here: You may find out more about how HomeServe processes your information here:

Sharing data for the prevention and detection of crime

We may be contacted by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the police, fraud prevention agencies or immigration control. Under data protection legislation we are permitted to share your personal data and are sometimes required to share it without your consent and you will not be notified that this has been done.

Ofwat Service Incentive Mechanism

All of our customers may have their contact information passed to a third party processor acting on behalf of our water regulator Ofwat for the purposes of the Service Incentive Mechanism (SIM). SIM helps to regulate customer service in the Water Industry in England and Wales. You may be contacted by this third party about the service you received from Northumbrian Water and asked to score our performance. This is not a direct marketing call and we have a Water Supply Licence Obligation to share your personal data. We are not permitted to remove any customer from this contact. For more information about Ofwat please see their website here (

Carefully selected and trusted partners

We may use carefully selected third parties to help us process your data and provide you with excellent customer service. When we work with third party organisations we require them to assure us of their compliance with our data protection and security requirements. This is further detailed in the contracts we have with them.

The following are some examples of our third party processors:

• Software providers for systems like our billing systems, job management system and meter reading system in order to support our data and system management.

• Bill printing services who assist us with our customer bill printing.

• Operational partners who assist us with operational work like helping us to fix leaking pipes.

• Research partners who assist us with market research in order to improve our business and provide you with excellent customer service.

• External auditors to ensure our business is running as it should.

Sharing data in an emergency or major incident

The Civil Contingencies Act 2004 provides legal authorisation (and in some cases a duty) to share data before, during and after an emergency or major incident where appropriate and proportionate.

In these circumstances we ensure we only share data which is necessary and we adhere to the Response and Recovery Information Sharing Protocol set up to ensure data shared is in compliance with the law.


We may use profiling to:

• show us how likely it is that our customers will pay us for our services;
• choose the most appropriate way to recover debts owed to us.

The profiling we use is based on information provided by our chosen credit reference agency along with data NWL already hold about you. The profiling undertaken is always in line with the law, and on the basis of our legitimate interests or in line with our legal obligations.


We’re keen to promote efficient water use and we may send you offers or make you aware of products that help with this. Also, from time to time we may tell you about other offers we think may interest you.

We may do this, or we may share your information with carefully selected partners who offer services or products that we think you may be interested in. Every time we contact you about such offers we will give you the opportunity not to hear about anymore.

If you don’t want to receive such offers at all, please let us know via the online form.

Please note though, that you may still receive non-personalised marketing material through your letterbox

You may also let us know by calling 0345 733 5566, or;

Northumbrian Water customers can write to us at:

Northumbrian Water
Customer Centre
PO Box 200

Visiting our sites

When you sign in as a visitor you will need to provide information such as your name and vehicle registration number (if you are parked at our site). This information is used for security reasons and for health and safety e.g. to ensure we know who is on site in case of an evacuation.

Our premises are monitored by CCTV so your image may be captured whenever you enter our site boundary. There are signs to show you when you are entering an area monitored by CCTV. CCTV Images are held for 30 days and then deleted.

If you have an accident while you are on Northumbrian Water’s premises this must be reported and will be recorded for the purposes of health and safety and insurance requirements.


We may occasionally use Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (“Drones”), for example to survey our remote network or sites; and where we do so we may use third party specialist providers. Where we do, we will always try to minimise our collection of personal data such as images of people or private properties. Where we use drones we will always do so in compliance with all relevant laws.

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