Private sewers to transfer to water companies

The ownership of private sewers in England is to transfer to the nine statutory water and sewerage companies, the Environment Department (DEFRA) has announced.

Details of the proposals first emerged in January (ENDS Report 384, pp 42-43 ). The government hopes they will end confusion over who is responsible for maintenance.

About 50% of properties in England are connected by private sewers to the public sewerage network, but most householders do not realise their responsibilities.

The cost of transfer will be met by an increase in customer bills. DEFRA estimates this will be in the range of £3-11 per year.

The department will shortly consult on how the transfer should be implemented.

Water UK welcomed the announcement as "a positive move that will help streamline repairs and maintenance in the sewerage network, which will in turn provide environmental benefits."