Drains & sewers

Water companies in England and Wales are responsible for the maintenance and repair of shared sewer pipes.  You are only responsible for the drainage pipe which serves your own property. Sewer pipes which are shared by more than one property, or run beyond your property boundary, are Severn Trent Water's responsibility.  The rules will you being charged for costly repairs for issues that aren't your fault.

As well as the private drains serving a single home or business within the boundary of the property, there are a few other types of pipes that are the responsibility of the current owners. These are:

  • Water supply pipes within your property boundary
  • Existing surface water sewers that drain directly to watercourses
  • Privately owned sewage treatment works and pipes connected to them
  • Privately owned septic tanks and cesspits (including all associated pipes even if serving more than one property)
  • Private pumping stations

If you have a problem related to the above you should contact Severn Trent Water on 0800 783 4444.

Types of drainage

A drain collects foul water (from sinks, baths, toilets, washing machines etc) or surface water (rainwater) from land and buildings within a single boundary. A drain can flow under another property's boundary (known as a lateral drain), a pavement or a highway until it reaches a sewer.

Private sewers are sewers built after 1937 that have not been adopted by the water company.  The difference between a drain and a private sewer is that a private sewer joins drains from two or more properties together.  Most sewers built before 1937 or those adopted by the water companies are public sewers. Severn Trent Water will be able to tell you if your sewer has been adopted.  Some public sewers are found within the boundary of private properties depending on when the sewer and the property were built.

A road gully is a chamber covered with a metal grate or grill at the edge of a highway. It collects and drains water from the highway. Road gullies are the responsibility of Derbyshire County Council.

Non-mains drainage

Non-mains drainage is mainly found in the rural areas of Derbyshire Dales.  The District Council retains a regulatory role in respect of non-mains drainage. If you wish to make a complaint or have an enquiry regarding non-mains drainage please contact us using the details below.

A cesspool is a watertight underground tank with a minimum capacity of 18,000 litres. Older cesspools are lined with brick or concrete, and more modern ones with plastics, polythene or steel.  Foul water is stored until the time of disposal. A cesspool must be pumped out or otherwise emptied by a competent contractor.  It is an offence for anyone other than a competent contractor to do this.

A septic tank is effectively a mini-sewerage system. Sewage is stored in a watertight tank where bacteria break down solid matter to one third of its original volume. Settled solids are retained and a clear liquid flows out via land drainage.  Installing a new septic tank requires permission from Building Control and a consent to discharge from the Environment Agency.


Misconnections, where drains or sewers have been incorrectly constructed such that they discharge directly into a watercourse, can have a dramatic impact on rivers and the use of rivers.  They can cause pollution, visual and odour problems and even a health risk due to the levels of untreated sewage.  As well as causing damage to the environment and human health, this is a problem for water companies who have to meet strict standards for water quality and the environmental regulators who enforces those standards.

You may not know that the dirty water from your washing machine, dishwasher, sink and even toilet could be going straight into nearby streams and rivers. ConnectRight is supported by the Environment Agency and Water UK (representing the Water and Sewage Companies) and can help you check existing connections or assist you making the right new connection.