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
Misconnection, Foul Water Drains and Surface Water Drains
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.
Surface water drains take water from roofs and drives. Since this is essentially just rain water, this water is often infiltrated into the ground or discharged towards a local watercourse without any treatment.
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.
Installation of domestic drainage systems
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
Need to register a sewer discharge?
Most small sewage discharges from a septic tank or sewage treatment plant can be registered with the Environment Agency. By registering the discharge you are exempt from the need to hold an Environmental Permit for that discharge. Registration is free of charge and can be done eitherApply online
or by paper form (obtained via 08708 506 506). The Environment Agency will inform you within 15 working days if your registration has been successful.
Registration is not needed if you have previously been issued a ‘Consent to Discharge’ or you have been issued an Environmental Permit for the discharge.
If your discharge is too large to qualify for exemption or you are too close to a protected area, you will need to apply for an Environmental Permit. A one-off application fee applies; £125 for a discharge up to 5m3 per day or £885 for a discharge greater than 5m3 per day.