Sewers and drains—maintenance and protection of sewers
Produced in partnership with John Bates of Old Square Chambers
Sewers and drains—maintenance and protection of sewers

The following Environment practice note produced in partnership with John Bates of Old Square Chambers provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Sewers and drains—maintenance and protection of sewers
  • Maintenance
  • Maintenance of street works
  • Protection of sewers
  • Building over sewers
  • Works in highways

Sewers and drains—maintenance and protection of sewers

Maintenance

Every sewerage undertaker has a duty to ensure that its sewers and lateral drains are cleaned and maintained so that its area is, and continues to be, effectually drained.

‘Cleaning’ a sewer means the removal of all obstructions and matter in it, while ‘maintain’ means keeping it in a proper state of repair but does not require the undertaker to improve or reconstruct it.

An undertaker’s duty to maintain its sewers and lateral drains is enforceable under s 18 of the Water Industry Act 1991 by the Secretary of State or, with their consent, Ofwat.

A sewerage undertaker has power to inspect, maintain, adjust, repair and alter any sewer, lateral drain or disposal main belonging to or vested in it that is in, under, or over any street.

It also has power to conduct the same operations in land, other than a street.

Such works are not ‘development’ so no planning permission is required for them under the Town and Country Planning Act 1990

Works in streets will have to comply with the Street Works Code issued under Part III of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991.

Maintenance of street works

An undertaker will have to maintain those of its sewers, or other apparatus that are in streets, in accordance with the provisions of the New Roads and Street Works Act 1991, s 81.

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