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Drainage and sewerage information

There is a lot of confusion over who is responsible for a blocked drain or sewer. People often think that blocked drains and sewers are the responsibility of the council, but this is not the case. Sewers and lateral drains come under the responsibility of Severn Trent Water Ltd. Private drainage pipes within your property boundary, which only drain your property, are the responsibility of the owner/occupier. See diagram below for clarification. More information on  sewer responsibility from Severn Trent Water.

If you are a tenant, you may want to contact your landlord or managing agent first as unblocking may be covered in your contract. If this is a repeating problem then it is advisable to contact your insurance company (building insurance).


Drainage types

The following examples explain the differences between the different types of drains

A private drain is any pipe work for storm water or sewage within your property boundary that drains just your property. The responsibility for preventing blockages and maintaining private drains remains with the owner. If a blockage occurs in a private drain then you need to arrange a drainage contractor to come out. If you have repeated blockages or fear that your drain is structural defective then it is best to contact your building insurance. 

A lateral drain is any pipe work for storm water or sewage outside a property boundary that drains just one property. An example is if the drain that serves your house crosses onto your neighbour’s land. From the point where the drain enters your neighbour’s land the drain becomes Severn Trent’s responsibility. If a blockage occurs in a lateral drain then you need to contact Severn Trent.

A public sewer is any pipe work for storm water or sewage outside your property boundary and all pipes that are shared with another property within your boundary. If a blockage occurs in a public sewer then you need to contact Severn Trent. 

Foul water drains take toilet waste or waste from sinks, baths and washing machines and transports it towards a treatment plant before it is discharged into the natural environment.

When foul water drains into a surface water drain then this is called a misconnection. As you would expect, a misconnection can have far-reaching results. The water from a washing machine or sink entering the natural environment untreated will cause pollution and can lead to the death of wildlife.

As the owner you have the legal obligation to ensure that your property has sufficient and satisfactory provision for drainage. If you fail to rectify a misconnection the Council can take enforcement action under Section 59 of the Building Act 1984. This is, however, normally seen as an ultimate solution.

The installation of a domestic drainage system requires an application for Building Regulation approval. Application forms are available from the Building Control Section; telephone: 01562 732509

Owners of non-mains drainage assets such as a septic tank or a sewage treatment plant must check with the Environment Agency that they meet the ‘general binding rules’ and apply for an Environmental Permit if they do not. As from 1 January 2020 discharge of treated effluent directly from a septic tank to a surface water (watercourse, ditch etc.) is no longer allowed.

More information on the Environment Agency website.

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