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Private sewers and drains

The water undertaker is responsible for dealing with private sewers and parts of the drainage system, which run under roads and pavements or the gardens of neighbours. In Eden, there are two water undertakers responsible for waste water, United Utilities who cover most of the Eden district and Northumbrian Water who cover the Alston and Nenthead area. For further information for the area where you live:

Go to waste water services on the United Utilities website or

Go to private drains and sewers on the Northumbrian Water website for Alston and Nenthead only.

The transfer of responsibility for private sewers and drainage systems from owner to water undertaker came into effect in 2011.

Sewers and drains, which did not transfer

Private drains serving a single home or business within the boundary of the property. There are a few other types of pipes that owners still have responsibility for after 2011. These are:

  • Water supply pipes within a 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.
  • Sewage treatment works and pipes connect to them, in private ownership.
  • Septic tanks and cesspits, including all associated pipes even if serving more than one property, in private ownership.
  • Any pipes where an appeal against transfer has been upheld by Ofwat.
    Go to Ofwat website for further information, they are the economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales.

Go to private sewers transfer regulations on GOV.UK for guidance on issues, which are likely to arise from the regulations on private sewers transfer.

Problem with a sewer

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. Call a plumber or check 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.

United Utilities customers

Read sewers and drains explained on United Utilities website for guidance on who is responsible if a problem occurs.

Telephone 0345 672 3723, available 24-hour a day, for water and wastewater, enquiries and emergencies including water supply problems and discoloured water, for anywhere in Eden district excluding Alston and Nenthead.

Report a leak form on the United Utilities website or telephone 0800 330 033, for anywhere in Eden district excluding Alston and Nenthead.

Northumberland Water customers

Telephone 0345 717 1100 for water and sewerage emergencies in the Alston and Nenthead area.