Water companies in the UK keep current maps of the water mains and sewers that they operate. Therefore, transporting clean water to home is shared between a water company and the property owner. Three types of water pipes exist for this purpose.
- Water Mains: Water mains are network pipes, which are large pieces of plumbing that distribute water throughout a specific venue. Frequently, these types of pipes are placed beneath highways.
- Communication: Communication pipes transport water to the boundary of a private property from the water mains. Usually, a stop-tap marks the spot where the company’s responsibility for the piping ends and the property owner’s obligation begins. Not all properties have this type of indicator. However, where stop-tops are fitted, they are also the maintenance responsibility of the water company.
- Supply Pipes: Generally, supply pipes are small-sized pipes that transport water from the pipework owned by the water company into a property. Therefore, the piping runs from a property’s boundary (or where the stop-tap is normally installed) to a water fitting or a stop-tap within a property. Any stop tap or water fitting that is placed along the supply pipeline is the maintenance responsibility of the property owner.
Review Your Property Deed to Confirm Ownership
Whilst the above information serves as a general guide, property owners should still enquire at their water companies and review their property deeds to confirm their rights in this regard.
Packaged pump stations are used to pump wastewater to area sewage treatment facilities. One or more may be installed in the land next to an owner’s home. The stations can vary in dimension and can range from the size of a manhole to a large shed. When private pumping stations are used to serve two or more properties, they become adopted (owned) by the area sewerage company. The adoption means that the company is responsible for remitting the costs associated with a station’s operation or repair.
Sewer and Drain Usage: A Shared Responsibility
Therefore, sewers and drains and their use are shared amongst local authorities, the Highways Agency, property owners, and water and sewerage companies. The responsibility for the public sewers falls on the shoulders of sewage companies.
Sewers are typically located in public open areas and in roads. However, some of the sewers may be situated in private gardens. In order to maintain the sewers, the sewerage companies can access them regardless of their placement. For example, if a sewerage company repairs a sewer located on a homeowner’s property, it must follow a specific code of practice.
Private Sewers and Pipes
The private sewers or pipes that transport waste from a home are usually the responsibility of the property owner. This responsibility extends to the point where the pipes link with the public sewer system, normally at the boundary of a property.
The Highways Agency and Local Authorities
The Highways Agency is responsible for overseeing highway drainage on motorways and trunk roads whilst local authorities, who serve as council house landlords, are responsible for highway drainage on the roads that they oversee. Gullies are included in this drainage system.