Finding a public sewer

Public sewers are owned and maintained by us and are often located to the front, side or rear of domestic properties.

Site surveys

Investigations on site to accurately locate a public sewer will be required. How extensive these are will vary from property to property. We recommend you consult a qualified, capable person, such as an architect, engineer or your builder.

The first thing to do is locate any manhole chambers. These offer a visible sign that a public sewer might run within your property. However, sometimes a manhole may have been covered by vegetation, decking or patio slabs. Even if there are no physical signs of a manhole cover, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a sewer running below the ground within your property.

Sometimes, a trained and competent individual may need to lift manhole covers to find out more information about the sewer.

As well as locating manhole chambers, we also recommend that you consider an electronic sewer trace or the digging of trial holes to precisely identify the position of the pipework. There are a number of private drainage contractors that offer this service.

If you need further advice, please contact us and we will be happy to assist.

Manhole safety

Manhole covers come in different shapes, sizes and weights. Safe methods of lifting that may involve the use of appropriate mechanical lifting aids should be considered before attempting to lift a cover 

Open manholes pose a risk to you and others around you - never leave an open manhole cover unattended and always replace the cover or barrier the area if you have to leave the area. 

Sewers are a harmful environment and you should never consider entering a manhole chamber unless you have been confined space trained and authorised to do so by Wessex Water. 

Deeds to your property

Sometimes details of the drainage arrangements may be included within the legal documentation related to your property (e.g. the deeds). These would help you find any public sewers within your land but again should be used for guidance purposes only.


Details of the drainage arrangements at your property may also be held at your Local Authority Council office. These would help you find any public sewers within your land but should be used for guidance purposes only.

Wessex Water maps

Our maps can be viewed to help establish the location of public sewers around your property and the surrounding area. As long as you obtain a copy directly from our dedicated team, the maps will also indicate whether the sewer is ‘strategic’ (these will be highlighted in bold).

These maps provide a useful starting point. However, it is important to note that not all public sewers will be shown, and for those that are, the position indicated on the plan may not match the precise route of the pipework. Wessex Water does not accept liability for inaccuracies.

Request a map

You can obtain a copy of the plan for your property or site via our free online service.