On 1st October 2011, sections of sewer pipes or drains which were shared with another person's property, or ran through another person's land and which had been privately owned were transferred by legislation to become 'public sewers'.
Property owners were often unaware that they were responsible for these pipes and drains until they faced a repair bill, causing confusion and leading to disputes between neighbours. The Government wanted clear ownership and better long-term maintenance for the sewer network.
Therefore these drains are how owned and maintained by the sewerage companies. Details of the changes can be found on the website of Southern Water.
The location of these newly adopted sewers may not be shown on the official 'map of sewers' and their position in relation to proposed building projects will be largely unknown. Consequently, applicants will not be alerted of these sewers by the usual consultations with the sewer authority, which take place when proposals are being considered for Planning Permission or Building Regulations approval.
If you suspect your building work may involve a public sewer in either of the following ways, you should consult with Southern Water on 0330 303 0119 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org BEFORE commencing construction work to minimise any potential delays;
- Your proposal involves building over, or within 3 metres of, a public sewer, or
- You wish to make a connection to, or alter the pipework or access to, a public sewer.
What should I do about a blocked sewer or drain?
If you have a blocked drain, if possible, check to see if the nearest manhole is blocked or contact your neighbour to see if they have the same problem.
If they have the same problem or the manhole is blocked, please call Southern Water immediately on 0330 303 0368.
If it is a problem with the private drains or sewers serving your property, you will need to contact a private drainage contractor. If in doubt, call Southern Water on 0330 303 0368 and their specialist advisors will be able to give you advice on what to do.