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The Big Transfer

On 1 October 2011, we became responsible for tens of thousands of kilometres of private sewers that had previously belonged to our customers.

Throughout July 2011 we wrote to all our customers explaining more about the sewer transfer and outlining what this change of ownership means. To help you understand more about what we are calling 'The Big Transfer' here you can find detailed information including interactive help guides, frequently asked questions and case studies. 

What's The Big Transfer about?

The Government took the decision to transfer ownership of private sewers to water companies in order to give customers greater clarity and peace of mind should a problem occur like a blocked or collapsed drain.

The transfer also ensures that we pick up the cost of maintaining and repairing these sewers, not our customers.

The interactive diagram below illustrates sewer pipe responsibility before and after 1 October 2011, showing the impact of the changes in legislation and how customers have been affected. 

The changes came into effect on 1 October 2011 and set out clear responsibilities for both water companies and customers in the event of sewer network issues

What exactly has been transferred to the water companies?

Private sewers and lateral drains have been transferred to form part of the public sewer network.
A private sewer is a pipe that carries rainwater and/or waste water away from more than one property to the public sewer.

A lateral drain is a pipe that carries waste water away from a single property. The transferred asset will be the length located outside the property boundary.

Sewers that connect to a private treatment works, connect to a septic tank or carry water directly to a watercourse have not been transfered.

There are many different scenarios for the layout of pipes around different properties. The diagrams shown on our website serve as a guide to typical pipe layouts. Please visit Water UK's website for further guidance on a range of scenarios.

Will my bill be going up as a result of these changes?

As a result of the Government's decision, we've taken on an additional 22,000kms of private sewers and lateral drains, which almost doubles the size of our system.

At this stage we do not know what condition these sewers and drains are in or how much we'll have to spend maintaining and repairing them.

The Government estimates that the transfer may increase average domestic bills by between £3 and £14 per year across the country.

However, any future increases in bills will have to be approved by our regulator Ofwat.

How will I know if my sewer has been transferred?

We wrote to all sewerage customers in July 2011 to explain the changes. We can only give a general guide on the what the transfer means according to what type of property you live in. Visit our interactive diagram by clicking on the first tab for more information.

How do I know if my sewer pipes are now public or private?

The law has changed so that you are now only responsible for drains serving your property alone that are located within your property boundary. At the point where the pipe leaves your property boundary or becomes shared with a neighbour (serving more than one property) it is now our responsibility. 

Take a tour of our interactive diagram that explains the current responsibilities and how things have changed. Click on the first tab.

Did all private sewers transfer?

No, sewers that connect to a private treatment works, connect to a septic tank or carry water directly to a watercourse did not transfer.

I am a drainage contractor - what does this mean for me?

If you currently provide a drainage service on the private system and are interested in working with us and our associated service partners, please register your interest by sending us an email and specifying your preferred coverage area.

You'll then be asked to complete a sub-contractor health, safety, environmental and quality assessment form. This will help us identify qualified contractors to work alongside us and our service partners.

What should I do now?

You don't need to do anything. The transfer of responsibility happened automatically on 1 October.

Why not subscribe for alerts about the latest information using the link at the top of the page?

I know of a pumping station that serves at least two properties. Do you need to know about it?

Yes, we need to know where private pumping stations are as these will transfer to us by 2016. Please email us details of the pumping station and location. It would be really helpful if you could also email us your contact details as we may need to contact you for more information. Thank you.

What will happen with business customers?

The sewer transfer included business customers. For businesses that are accommodated in properties similar to residential housing, for example shops and takeaways, private sewers transferred just as they did with housing (according to the type of property, eg terraced, semi-detached or detached.)

For large businesses or retail parks the owner of the property is responsible for the drain right up to the property boundary. When the pipe leaves the boundary it then becomes our responsibility.

Video 

 Find out more about the sewer transfer by watching the video below

Case Studies

case study 1 case study 2 case study 3

If, having read the information we've provided here, there's something that you don't understand or would like us to explain in a bit more detail then click on the button below to ask us a question online.

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