Public and private sewers

Find out the difference between public and private sewers.

What is a public sewer?

Public sewers are owned and maintained by us and are often located to the front, side or rear of domestic properties (shown as double pink pipes in the illustration below). Almost all sewers that are shared by two or more properties or serve a single property but are located outside of the property boundary, will be public.

What is a private sewer?

Private drains and sewers are the responsibility of the properties that use them. These pipes take sewage and rainwater away from your property, up to the boundary or to the point where it joins with pipework from another property (shown as solid yellow pipes in the illustration below).

Please note that there are some exceptions to these general rules below.

Examples of private drains and sewers

Some examples of private drains and sewers include:

  • pipes connected to private treatment systems, such as septic tanks, soakaways and private treatment works
  • pipes which do not connect to a public sewer, such as surface water pipes that discharge directly into a watercourse
  • pipes that were installed on or after 1 July 2011 that have not been offered to us for adoption
  • pipes that are maintained privately as part of a single, centrally managed site, such as a school, industrial estate or hospital.