Drainage & Sewage

Guidelines on Drainage Responsibilities

New Government legislation introduced on 1 October 2011 sees water companies in England and Wales take over many sewer pipes which previously have been under private ownership. You can find out more about the changes here.

There is however one important factor that will reduce the number of blockages that occur in the first place and this is taking care of what items are actually pushed, poured or flushed down a drain or sewer.  The following items should never be put down a drain:

  • Cement,
  • rubble,
  • concrete,
  • stones,
  • engine oil,
  • chemicals,
  • fats,
  • newspapers,
  • magazines,
  • nappies,
  • sanitary products
  • other bulky items.

Owner Occupiers 

The owner of a private property is responsible for their own drains within the curtilage (boundary) of their property.  However this can become complex where these drains connect into a private sewer serving more than one property.  Where this is the case, the drain will now be adopted by United Utilities and become a public sewer that they will maintain.

The Main Sewer / Public Sewer

This is generally the responsibility of the sewerage undertaker which in this Borough is United Utilities.  Should you encounter any problems with the main public sewer or drains, then in the first instance you should contact United Utilities on 0345 672 3723.

Highways Gulleys

These are designed to take the surface water from roads and backstreets.  They are not designed to take foul water.  Any problems relating to these drains i.e. that they are blocked, overflowing or giving off odours, should be reported to the Highways Hotline on 0300 303 2992.

Council Houses

The sewers and drains which serve a Council House are under the control of the Borough Council and any problems relating to these properties should be referred to your local housing office for further advice.

Ex Council Houses - Sold under the Right To Buy

The general rule of thumb relating to these is similar to that of the owner occupier.  The owner is responsible for their own private drain within the curtilage of their property until it connects into a public sewer.  Once it connects into a public sewer, United Utilities will be the point of contact for any blockages.  If you are unaware as to whether you connect into a private or public sewer you should check with the Housing Department first.

Properties connected to a Cesspit, Septic Tank, or a Private Sewage Treatment Plant

These are private drainage systems and as such the responsibility for such systems fall entirely on the householders, and are not the responsibility of either United Utilities nor the Council.  The maintenance of these systems and the emptying of them are entirely down to the householders.  However it may be the case that one such system serves more than one property.  Where this is the case, each householder is responsible for his or her own drains until the point where it connects into a common part of the system.  Any works or maintenance that are required to these common parts are the joint responsibility of all householders served by the system.

Useful Contacts

  • United Utilities 0345 672 3723
  • Environmental Health 01229 876543
  • Council Housing Office  01229 876525

Details of other contractors who may be able to assist you with your drainage problems can be found in the Yellow Pages under the heading Drain and Pipe Cleaning.

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