Q&As

Where a private sewer connects to a public sewer, is the water authority under a duty not to adversely affect the private system when they carry out works to the public system?

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Produced in partnership with Helen Galley of XXIV Old Buildings
Published on LexisPSL on 10/07/2017

The following Planning Q&A produced in partnership with Helen Galley of XXIV Old Buildings provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Where a private sewer connects to a public sewer, is the water authority under a duty not to adversely affect the private system when they carry out works to the public system?

Where a private sewer connects to a public sewer, is the water authority under a duty not to adversely affect the private system when they carry out works to the public system?

In essence, private properties normally drain sewage and other waste water through a private sewer which connects to the public sewer. The relevant statutory regime relating to sewers is contained in Part IV of the Water Industry Act 1991 (WIA 1991). Essentially, by WIA 1991, s 106 the owner or occupier of any premises or the owner of a private sewer is entitled to have his drains connect with the public sewer and so can discharge foul water from the premises and from the private sewer. There are various statutory duties imposed on statutory undertakers for this purpose. As a result, one would assume that if an owner of a private sewer or property had availed himself of that right and if the public undertaker had carried out works to the public sewer such that the flow from the private sewer was blocked or impeded there, potentially, would be a cause of action by the owner of the private sewer against the statutory undertaker. Matters are not so simple, however.

The facts set out in the appeal in Dwr Cymru Cyfyngedig (Welsh Water) v Barratt Homes put very briefly, are that Barratt had built

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