Shared Private Sewers - Change of Responsibility

Posted: 04/04/2011

The government has decided that in England and Wales all private sewers and lateral drains that connect to the public sewer will transfer to the ownership of the 10 water and sewerage companies.

Many households do not know that they are responsible for the maintenance and repair of the pipe that connects their external drain to the public sewer in the street.

Sometimes the responsibility of ownership is shared with neighbours for stretches of pipework. Usually people find this out when a problem occurs and the homeowners must cover the cost of repairs.

The aim of the transfer is to end a complex system in which for half of the nation responsibility for these sewers and laterals rests with homeowners and for the rest the pipework and connections are maintained by water and sewerage companies.

Under the new arrangement sewers and laterals will automatically be transferred, unless customers appeal against the change.

The pipework within a property boundary connecting drains from the property to the sewer or lateral drain will remain the responsibility of the property owner unless other properties drain through it.

The new arrangements

In England and Wales the water and sewerage companies will become responsible for the maintenance of the sewers and lateral drains, and the whole wastewater network will be managed more efficiently.

The government is putting in place regulations for how this will work and has said that the cost will be shared among all water customers. The regulations are expected to be presented to Parliament for approval early in 2011.

New sewers will also be required to be built to an approved standard to ensure the integrity of the network as it expands to include new properties.

Source: Ofwat

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