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Transfer of Private Drains and Sewers.


On 15 December 2008, the Government announced that the ownership of private sewers and lateral drains (which connect to the public sewer system) would transfer to the 10 statutory water and sewerage companies in 2011.

The legislation has now been passed and throughout July the Water Authorities will be writing to every property owner in their region to notify them of the change.

The regulations state that the transfer will take place overnight on 1 October 2011 and that privately owned pumping stations will transfer over a phased basis between 1 October 2011 and 1 October 2016.


At present, owner/occupiers are usually responsible for the pipes that drain into public sewers, right to the point that it connects to those sewers. This can include assets that go beyond the boundary of their properties. Unless a problem occurs, householders are often unaware that they are responsible for repairs and on-going maintenance to these assets. Where problems do occur, the costs of repair can be high, and may lead to disputes between neighbours where responsibility is shared.

Defra believes that it is resolving these issues by transferring private drains and sewers into the ownership of water and sewerage companies. It has stated that transfer will bring a number of benefits:

  • Greater clarity over ownership;
  • More effective management of the sewerage network; and
  • Removal of the burden of maintenance from householders by spreading the cost across water and sewerage companies' customer bases.

How will responsibilities change?


  • All sewers transfer
  • All laterals outside property boundaries transfer

However home owners will remain responsible for the private drains within their boundary.

Private treatment works, septic tanks, drains (serving one property) within property boundaries and surface water drains are not included in the transfer.

Costs of maintenance and repair will be shared across the Water Authorities customer base

The Water Authorities will all incur additional costs as initial problems are resolved - and these will be spread across all customers' bills within that region.

The transfer means that rather than some customers facing significant repair bills, the costs will be shared more generally across each customer base.


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