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Sewers and drainage

Drainage responsibility is often confusing for home owners, especially when things go wrong.

In 2011, the law changed for who is responsible for different sections of drainage that serve different premises. 

The distinction between drains and sewers:

  • A drain is a pipe which carries effluent from one property
  • A sewer is a pipe which carries effluent from more than one property
  • When two drains join, the pipe becomes a sewer

Generally, householders are responsible for the drains serving their property that are located within their boundary.  The local Water Authority (Southern Water for Medway) is responsible for drains located outside the boundary of a property and sewers.  A guide and video explaining who is responsible for what sections can be found on Southern Water’s website.

Properties connected to a private pumping station

As detailed above, the same information applies for the sections of pipe work serving properties connected to a pumping station, however the responsibility for the pumping station, valve chamber and rising main falls to those householders that are connected to the station. 

Local Water Authorities will be taking over the responsibility for private pumping stations serving two or more properties in October 2016.  Southern Water are in the process of collecting data of the locations of these pumping stations and would welcome information from residents by completing their data collection form.

Properties connected to a cesspit or septic tank.

These are private drainage systems and as such, the responsibility for them falls entirely on the householder. They are not the responsibility of Southern Water nor the council. The maintenance and upkeep of these systems, which includes their emptying, is the householders responsibility.

So blockages don't occur...

  • take care with what items are actually pushed, poured or flushed down a drain or sewer

The following items should never be put down a drain:

  • cement, rubble, concrete, stones
  • bricks, engine oil, chemicals, sanitary products
  • newspapers, magazines, nappies, cotton buds
  • hand wipes, fats, other bulky items

Report contaminated land, light pollution, drainage or asbestos issues.

Useful contacts

  • Southern Water - phone 03303030368

Details of other contractors who may be able to assist you with your drainage problems can be found in the Yellow Pages under the heading "drain and pipe cleaning".