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OHSAS 18001
Drainage - Responsibilities:

The laws relating to sewers and drains have changed, and as a result this FAQ is designed purely as a guideline on who to contact as a general rule. Resolving problems relating to drains and sewers can be time consuming as it is not always apparent precisely what is the cause of the problem, although the use of CCTV can aid this process.

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 and other bulky items.

Owner Occupiers.

As of October 1, 2011 property owners are no longer responsible for certain sewer pipes that connect their homes to public sewers. New legislation transferred responsibility for these pipes, called private sewers and lateral drains, to the Sewerage Companies. Property owners were often unaware that they were responsible for these pipes until they faced a repair bill, causing confusion and leading to disputes between neighbours. The Government wants clear ownership and better long-term maintenance for the sewer network.

There are now only public sewers (owned and maintained by the sewerage companies) and private drains (the responsibility of property owners).
The owner of a private property is responsible for their own drains within the curtilage (boundary) of their property.
If as a house owner you are unaware as to whether you are on a private drain or sewer, then you should check with your Local
Sewerage Company prior to calling out a contractor.

The example shown below may help to clarify this situation:


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The Main Sewer.
This is generally the responsibility of the sewerage undertaker, normally your local water authority. Should you encounter any problems with the main public sewer or drains, then in the first instance you should contact your local water authority.

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 Department at your Local Council Offices or Town Hall.

Properties connected to a Cesspit, Septic Tank, or a Private Sewage Treatment Plant.
Privately-owned septic tanks and cesspits and their connecting pipework, large multi-occupier commercial sites, and sewers that carry water directly to a watercourse will not transfer.These are private drainage systems and as such the responsibility for such systems fall entirely on the householder(s), and are not the responsibility of either the
Sewerage Companies, Local Water Authority nor the Council. The maintenance of these systems and the emptying of them are entirely down to the householder(s). 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.

Private Pumping Stations
Private pumping stations will not be transferred immediately, but will transfer by October, 2016. This will give sewerage companies time to find and survey all these stations, and to work out what works are required to enable them to be adopted.

What happens if I don't clear the blockage or carry out repairs?
Your Local or  Borough Council has various Public Health powers under several Acts of Parliament which enable it to require, by formal legal notice, the clearance of any blockage or the undertaking of any necessary repair works. Failure to comply with formal legal notices is an offence and can lead to prosecution. The works may be carried out by the Council in default and the costs recovered from those responsible.

The following information summarises your rights and obligations as a tenant or home owner:

How the law affects you:
It is important to understand the different classifications of pipework. Responsibilities are different with each type of pipe.

"Drain" carries waste and/or surface water directly from one house into a public sewer.

"Public Sewer" public or main sewer is part of the network of publicly owned foul or surface water drainage systems. These systems are managed by the sewerage undertaker and accept the flows from the smaller private drains or sewer adopted by the sewerage undertaker (normally your local Water Authority).

Your responsibilities:

If you own a house you are responsible to clear and repair the drains, gutters and rain water pipes.
If you are a tenant the landlord is responsible, but depending on your tenancy agreement, the landlord may pass on the costs to you.
If owners of houses fail to meet their responsibilities, the Environmental Health Service may serve a statutory notice to ensure that the necessary work is carried out. If the work is not carried out, the Council will carry out the works. All costs incurred in carrying out the work plus an administration charge will be recharged to the persons responsible.

Public Sewer:
The Sewerage Undertaker (normally your local water Authority) is responsible to clear and repair all public sewers.

Is the effluent or foul water that passes through the sewer or drain


Clearaway Drainage Services Ltd.  
  Registered Office: Bridge House, London Bridge, London, SE1 9QR
  Registered in England     Registration No: 2946763

Clearaway Drainage Services Ltd 2005