Plumbing and drainage misconnections
Misconnections pollute rivers and beaches throughout the UK
The ConnectRight campaign is a partnership between environmental regulators, water companies, authorities and other professional organisations who work to reduce water pollution from drains and sewers via misconnections.
Misconnected drains can pollute local streams, rivers and beaches, damage wildlife and put our health at risk. ConnectRight work to reduce the number of misconnected properties in the UK.
Many houses have two separate sewers:
The foul sewer takes waste water from toilets, bathrooms and kitchens to sewage works for treatment.
The surface water sewer takes rainwater from the roof and sends it to a local river, stream or beach.
If your property has waste water pipes discharging to a surface water sewer intended for rainwater only, it will cause pollution. This is known as a misconnection and you need to put it right.
If you own the property, you are responsible, even if the misconnection was made by a previous owner.
If you rent the property, you should contact the landlord who is responsible for putting it right. This may be the local council, housing association or a private landlord.
Since October 2011 water companies have taken over the ownership of private sewers. This means you are responsible for the drains from your property up to the point they combine with drains from a neighbouring property. After this point they are the responsibility of your water company.
Water companies, environmental regulators or members of the public can find and report pollution at any time. The discharge may have been occurring intermittently over a long period but might not have been previously seen, reported and then investigated.
Yes. The effective operation of septic tanks and other private sewage treatment plants is compromised by discharges or rainwater. Rainwater outlets from the property should always discharge to a river, stream or to groundwater.
Any misconnections that you identify are likely to indicate either a rainwater outlet that is incorrectly connected to your septic tank or wastewater that is illegally polluting the environment.
Legal action can be taken. Initially, authorities usually prefer to work with property owners to correct misconnection problems voluntarily. Ultimately you will be served with a notice to correct the drainage and this will incur more costs especially if the authorities have to undertake the work and then recharge you.
The polluter could also face legal action depending on the damage to the environment. A person sentenced by a Magistrate faces a fine not exceeding £50,000 or imprisonment of up to 12 months, or both. In extreme cases in a Crown Court a person faces an unlimited fine or imprisonment of up to 5 years, or both.
This depends on the fault that has been identified. If the problem was identified by your water company or drainage professional, they should be able to provide advice about how to correct it.
Not normally. Unfortunately, your insurance usually only covers blocked or defective sewers.
Most above-ground drainage problems such as rerouting about-ground pipework from a sink or a washing machine will cost less than £100. More complex alterations, including below-ground corrections will cost a lot more. Contact two or three WaterSafe approved plumbers for a quote as prices may vary.
No, your water company will not undertake work on your private drainage.
If you have received a letter from your water company, environmental regulator or local authority about a misconnection, contact them to help find a solution.