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Private sewers and drains

The responsibility for dealing with private sewers has changed since the 1 October 2011 and parts of the drainage system that were previously the responsibility of some house owners, but ran under roads and pavements or the gardens of neighbours, have gone over to be the responsibility of the water undertaker.

For most of the district of Eden, this is United Utilities waste water services, but for the area of Alston and Nenthead, this is Northumbrian Water. In order to find out in whose area your house is located, check your current bill for water and/or sewerage.

What won't transfer?

As well as the private drains serving a single home or business within the boundary of the property, there are a few other types of pipes that are not covered by the regulations and will remain the responsibility of the current owners after 1st October. These are:

  • Water supply pipes within your property boundary
  • Existing surface water sewers that drain directly to watercourses (for this to apply, it would mean the surface water from a property does not drain into the public sewer)
  • Privately owned sewage treatment works and pipes connected to them
  • Privately owned septic tanks and cesspits (including all associated pipes even if serving more than one property
  • Any pipes where an appeal against transfer has been upheld by Ofwat

Further information see Defra web page on provisional non-statutory guidance on private sewers transfer regulations.

What do I do if I have a problem with my sewers after transfer?

If the problem is clearly in the section of pipe running from your house and across your garden/property, then it is likely that the problem will be yours to resolve, either by calling in a local plumber (Yell) or through your home insurance policy which often covers such drains and lateral sewers.

If you are not sure, then you can contact us on 01768 817817 for advice.

For United Utilities customers:

Water and wastewater enquiries and emergencies (24-hour) including water supply problems, discoloured water, drains and sewers.

  • Telephone: 0345 672 3723
  • Textphone: 0808 143 0295

If you spot a leak in the road or public footpath:

  • Telephone: 0800 330 033
  • Textphone: 0808 143 0295

or report a leak online.

For Northumberland Water customers:

Water and sewerage emergencies (24 hour) 0345 717 1100.