Drains and Sewers: Who is responsible for maintaining them?

Understanding the Difference between Drains, Lateral Drains and Sewers

In order to ascertain who is responsible for maintaining drains and sewers, it is first necessary to distinguish between a drain, a lateral drain and a sewer. A drain is a pipe which drains water away from a property and the buildings on it. A lateral drain is the length of pipe which carries wastewater away from that property to the sewer. Lateral drains are usually outside the boundaries of a property and can often be found underneath the pavement or the road. A sewer will then collect the wastewater from a number of properties via these lateral drains.

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Most sewers are publicly owned and are maintained by water companies, with the exception being a small number of remaining sewers that are privately owned. Homes that are not connected to the sewerage system may be connected to a cesspool, septic tank or treatment plant instead. Broadly speaking, the property owner is responsible for the drains that are within the boundaries of the property. The water and sewerage companies are responsible for the lateral drains and sewers that are outside the boundaries of the property.

Dealing with Repairs to Drains and Sewers

Any drains on your property are your private drains and it will be your responsibility to organise and pay for any repairs needed. This will involve selecting a company to carry out the work on your behalf. It is, therefore, crucial that you ensure that any works such as drain lining are completed by a reputable company that recognises the key principles of effective and sustainable water management.

According to OFWAT, the non-ministerial governing department for the water and sewerage industry, the importance of providing sustainable, reliable and affordable water and wastewater services for everyone is now the shared responsibility of all companies who provide these services, following the privatisation of the water and sewerage industry in 1989.

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The process of drain lining Gloucester and elsewhere can be discussed further with a professional drainage service company such as that seen here: www.wilkinson-env.co.uk/sewer-repairs-drain-lining-concrete-cutting/drain-repairs/drain-repairs-gloucester.

If there is an issue with the lateral drain or sewer outside of the boundaries of your property, or with a lateral drain that you share with a neighbour, you will need to contact your water company to notify them as it is their responsibility to maintain and repair it.

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