About the transfer of private sewers
The government decided that in England and Wales all private sewers and lateral drains that connect to the public sewer would transfer to the ownership of the 10 water and sewerage companies.
The aim of the transfer was to end a complex system in which for half of the nation responsibility for these sewers and laterals rested with homeowners and for the rest the pipework and connections were maintained by water and sewerage companies.
Under the new arrangement sewers and laterals are automatically transferred, unless customers appeal against the change.
The pipework within a property boundary connecting drains from the property to the sewer or lateral drain remains the responsibility of the property owner unless other properties drain through it.
The new arrangements
In England and Wales the water and sewerage companies are now responsible for the maintenance of the sewers and lateral drains, and the whole wastewater network will be managed more efficiently.
The government put in place regulations for how this would work and said that the cost would be shared among all water customers. The regulations came into force on 1 July 2011, with transfer on 1 October 2011.
New sewers will be required to be built to an approved standard to ensure the integrity of the network as it expands to include new properties.
The bigger picture
The decision to transfer ownership came after almost a decade of discussion, research and consultation led by government and involving water companies, customer groups, local authorities, regulators and other stakeholders.
The transfer is one element of a wider policy discussion about how we can manage our national infrastructure in a better and more integrated way and develop improved wastewater management. This bigger picture extends to managing surface water drainage, preventing sewer blockages, bringing environmental improvements and reducing the sewer overload that can result in flooding.