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Water Change

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Draft regulations about to go before Parliament for approval and expected to be in force by July, will see a fundamental change in the management of private sewers across England and Wales.

The Government is proposing that the responsibility for the pipes that connect external drains of private households to the public sewer in the street – currently the responsibility of the householder - will pass to the 10 water and sewerage companies.

The responsibility for the external drains is in some cases shared by householders in the same street. Over 10 million households currently have this responsibility - some may not even be aware of this.

Water companies have already started to make their customers aware of these changes.

Gareth Owen, a partner in the Commercial Property team at Yorkshire Law firm Keeble Hawson LLP explains more:

“If all goes to plan the ownership of the drains will be transferred on 1st October. With Government estimates showing that there are almost as many private sewers as there are public sewers in England and Wales, this will be a huge undertaking.”

“The cost of the transfers will be shared among all water customers, with the cost of maintenance included in the water bills. There are also pipes the transfer of ownership will not apply to; namely pipes beneath a property connecting that property only to a public sewer.”

“The Consumer Council for Water, which represents all water customers, has welcomed the changes as it will rule out the potentially expensive cost of maintenance and repairs – although customers will have a right to appeal against the change.”

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