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Contacting Your Water Authority

What is the difference between drains and sewers?

Drains take foul sewage (waste from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens) and surface water (rain water) away from a single property. Lateral drains are the part of a drain outside the property boundary - for example, in a neighbour’s garden or in the highway.

Sewers are shared drains. They take sewage and water away from more than one property.

Who is responsible for drains and sewers?

The rules concerning responsibility for sewers and drains changed on 1st October 2011:

  • Homeowners or occupiers are responsible for the home’s drains, even if they go under someone else’s land or road
  • water and sewerage companies are responsible for public sewers
  • water and sewerage companies are responsible for lateral drains and private sewers that connect to a public sewer
  • Homeowners or occupiers are responsible for private sewers that connect to a private pumping station and treatment works and for private sewers that carry water directly into a watercourse such as a river or a soak away. The owners of the properties that drain into it are jointly responsible for its repair and maintenance

How does this affect Building Control?

If your proposal involves building over or within 3m of a sewer or lateral drain as shown from your proposal plans, then we are obliged to inform and consult the sewerage/water authority.

You may require the authority’s consent or they may ask you to enter into a ‘build-over agreement’.

This can involve additional expense. We would advise you to consult your local water authority as early as you can before starting.

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