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Whose drain is it anyway (or is that a lateral connection)?

22nd August, 2011

The answer to that question may be found in the excitingly titled The Water Industry (Schemes for Adoption of Private Sewers) Regulations 2011 which came into force on the 1st July 2011.

Many drains and associated drainage schemes in England and Wales are “public sewers” and if something goes wrong there is usually a local public utility company around to fix the problem. However there are significant stretches of private sewers as well dealing with foul sewage or surface water drainage.

When private sewers go wrong it is usually up to the private individuals to resolve the problem and fight over who is going to pay for any repairs or improvement works. More often than not the failure to agree as to how the works should be carried out and at whose cost leaves the drains in disrepair for some time, with the consequential effects of having sewage pumping into public areas.

The aim of the new regulations is to legally impose an obligation to manage many areas of private sewer onto local public utility dealing with sewerage functions. It is proposed that this will happen from 1st October 2011. For many private owners or occupiers served by private sewers this should be good news but how the public utilities will deal with the increased responsibilities is yet to be seen.

If you want any further information on these issues please contact David Kerfoot, Head of Planning at [email protected].

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