As a home owner you are responsible for any drain serving only your property within your boundary. If you have a blocked or damaged drain, your options are to contact a drainage company or to contact your home insurance company, as you may be covered under your buildings insurance policy.

United Utilities are responsible for any shared drainage whether it falls within your boundary or not. If you are experiencing problems with shared drainage you will need to inform United Utilities on 0345 672 3723 or visit the United Utilities website.

Private drainage which is served by a septic tank, whether it be shared or otherwise, is private drainage. Responsibility for the upkeep of this drainage rests with those properties who benefit from it. If you have issues with your septic tank or the drainage connected to it you will need to contact a drainage company or your home insurance provider.

Sewer Responsibility guide

The difference between drains and sewers

  • A drain serves only one property. This is the homeowners responsibility.
  • A sewer serves more than one property. This is United Utilities responsibility.
  • A lateral drain is the section of pipe which continues beyond the property boundary. This is United Utilities responsibility.

Further investigation

The Council has powers to intervene where there is a defect in a private drain which is not being dealt with by those responsible. The Council can serve legal notices and carry out works in default if necessary. In some cases CCTV surveys of the pipes are required to determine the extent of the problem or defect.  In such cases the Council will charge for the cost of works and administration costs. Homeowners should consider this method of actioning works as a last resort.

Charges for drainage response

The Council charge to cover time spent dealing with drainage issues. 

The Council are not responsible for private drainage, but we will investigate private drainage issues if necessary. Following a report of an issue we may attend site to gather more information regarding the nature of the issue. If matters can be resolved on site during this visit there will be no costs to the owners of the affected drain. But if further action is required by the Council we will recover any initial costs and any further costs from time spent dealing with the matter from those who have a shared responsibility of the drain.

Preventing blockages

Care should be taken with what items are pushed, poured or flushed down a drain or sewer, to reduce the number of blockages that occur in the first place. You should never put down a drain:

  • cement, rubble, concrete, stones, bricks
  • fats and greases, engine oil, chemicals
  • hand or baby wipes (including toilet training wipes for toddlers), sanitary products, nappies, cotton buds
  • newspapers, magazines, other bulky items

Highway gullies

These are designed to take surface water from roads and back streets. They are not designed to take foul water. Any problems relating to these drains, for example that they are blocked, overflowing or giving off odours, should be reported to the Highways department.

Polluted ditches or watercourses

Polluted ditches or watercourses should be reported to the Environment Agency incident desk on 0800 807060 (Freephone, 24 hour service). 

Contacts for drains

The Council cannot enforce United Utilities to maintain public sewers. However they do have their own complaints procedure. If you are still unhappy with their response you can contact Water Voice or OFWAT.

The Council no longer offers a drain-clearing service.

Contact us


01270 375256

Building Control
Municipal Buildings
Earle Street


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