Drain liability to be moved to firms

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THE RESPONSIBILITY for private sewers and lateral drains in Eastbourne is to be transferred to water and sewerage companies later this year.

The pipes connect pipes running from customers’ homes to public sewers and are currently the responsibility of the homeowner. But earlier this month Caroline Spelman, Secretary of State for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, announced that responsibility for private sewers and lateral drains in England and Wales will be transferred to water and sewerage companies in October this year. Southern Water has welcomed the changeover saying homeowners are often unaware that they are responsible for these pipes until problems occur and they get landed with a repair bill. The company says the transfer will remove that doubt and the risk of future liability and repair costs. Sewer collapses, especially if in the road, can cost thousands of pounds to repair and insurance policies won’t cover fair wear and tear.

A spokesperson at Southern Water said, “Transfer to the water companies will benefit the majority of customers who will no longer be responsible in the event of the collapse or blockage of their sewer or lateral drain. Some of these sewers have been neglected for years and are in very poor condition. There is, however, a cost to this move which will affect customers’ bills in the future. The Government has estimated that the transfer may increase domestic bills by between £3 and £14 per year across the country. The extra cost in bills will aim to cover the maintenance and repairs by water and sewerage companies of all newly adopted private sewers.”

Householders will remain responsible for drains, pipes serving just their property, within the boundary of their property. The transfer does not include private pumping stations. It is expected that these will be transferred by 2016, giving water companies the opportunity to locate and survey all existing pumping stations.