Private Drains and Sewers

What is what?

Few of us give much thought to who owns the drains and sewers which serve our property. Until we have a problem, that is. And whilst the rule of thumb used to be that if it was within your boundary, it was your responsibility, that all changed in October 2011.

Mostly it’s not a pressing matter. Truth be told, anything to do with drains and sewers is likely to be in the ‘out of sight, out of mind’ category. And we were probably a bit hazy about what was what before the new legislation. But you never know what’s in the pipeline, so to speak, or when you might find yourself at the wrong end of a blocked sewer.

Whose is whose?

Thanks to a nifty bit of law making in October 2011, the Water and Sewerage Companies (WaSC) now own a tad more of the sewer network. So, by default, that means we householders have responsibility for a bit less. And that’s got to be a good thing.

It’s all because the government transferred ownership of most of the private sewers in England and Wales across to the WaSCsunder what is commonly known as ‘PSaD’ legislation in October 2011. The key to grasping what’s what here, is the word ‘most’. That loosely translates as ‘everything except the bit that’s a) on your property and b) is exclusively yours’.

It means that as a householder you’re no longer responsible for private sewers that you share with another property, or for the section of your property’s drain that lies outside the property boundary. But, you are still responsible for the drain serving the property and located within the property boundary. (Check the DEFRA website for more details.) It’s worth remembering that you may be covered by your house insurance for any damage to sewers you do maintain.

Which is which?

It’s far easier to explain the changes visually, so our graphics here aim to show you quite simply what difference the legislation has made to which drain is which and whose sewer is whose.

It may not look a great deal. But in practical terms, the legislation has removed a considerable burden from property owners who may have had to find thousands of pounds for unexpected repairs to sewers out of their own pockets — or via insurance, which inevitably increased premiums. With the costs of repairs to private sewers estimated at some £221million each year, that’s a fair old saving for the public’s pockets.

So, who are you going to call?

Like drains, sewer pipes get blocked from time to time and can pose a real risk to health if the sewage overflows. That’s why an expert operator — like Lanes — with all the appropriate protective clothing and equipment, should deal with a sewer blockage. And we’ll tell you whether the affected pipe is yours or belongs to your WaSC. That way you’ll know what to do next. In many cases, Lanes carries out sewer unblocking on behalf of the WaSCs. And, as you would expect from Lanes, we do it right across the UK and right round the clock, through our 24/7 local depot network.

If you know for sure that the affected sewer is part of your water and sewerage company’s remit, obviously that’s easy: call them direct (click here to view your regional water company). If not, find your nearest Lanes depot, call us FREE on 0808 167 6209, or use our online enquiry form.


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