Drains and sewers

General information and misconnections

Responsibility of the current owners

You are responsible for the drainage pipe which serves your property if the pipe serves a single home/ business within the boundary of the property. You are also responsible for:

  • 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.

Responsibility of Severn Trent Water

Severn Trent Water are responsible for the maintenance and repair of shared sewer pipes or pipes run beyond your property boundary.

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


Misconnections are where drains or sewers have been incorrectly constructed so they discharge directly into a watercourse which can have a dramatic impact on rivers and their uses. Misconnections can cause visual and odour problems, pollution and health risks due to the levels of untreated sewage.

Dirty water from your washing machine, dishwasher, sink and toilet could be discharging straight into nearby streams and rivers. This causes damage to the environment and presents health risks, as well as causing a problem for water companies who have to meet strict standards for water quality. If you are concerned that dirty water from appliances in your home are discharging into nearby streams and rivers, ConnectRight (supported by the Environmental Agency and Water UK) can help you check existing connections or assist you in making a new connection.

Mains 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.

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