A drain is a pipe that takes away foul sewage (from toilets), grey water (waste water, other than toilet water from households e.g. sink, bath, dishwasher waste) or surface water from a property (such as from roofs, hard surfacing). If, as a drain it serves a single property it is normally the responsibility of the property owner. Once a drain joins with another and takes waste matter from more than one property it is known as a sewer.
Once a drain becomes a sewer (as it connects with another drain or sewer) in most cases that sewer then becomes the responsibility of Wessex Water. Wessex Water maintain detailed sewer maps that show where the foul and surface water sewers run and will be able to determine who is responsible for defects at a given point in the drainage system.
Wessex Water are responsible for unblocking public sewers (free of charge) and remedying faults such as damaged pipework or drainage covers. They are also responsible for managing pumping stations and in some rural areas they manage sewage treatment plants serving several properties.
In most cases, private sewage pumping stations that serve more than one property and pump to the public sewerage system transferred to Wessex Water responsibility on 1st October 2016 as a result of a change in the law. Wessex Water will be responsible for all maintenance, breakdowns and electricity for the transferred pumping stations.
If you part own or are partly responsible for a private sewage pumping station and have not advised Wessex Water of its existence, please telephone 0345 600 4 600.
More information on pipework responsibility, can be found on the Wessex Water website, here: Wessex Water - Pipework Responsibility
Call the Wessex Water Sewage Floodline on 0345 850 5959 (24 hours) in the unlikely event that your property is flooded with sewage internally or externally.
Sewer flooding is caused by the failure of a pumping station, a blocked sewer or exceptional weather which can overwhelm the system.
Internal flooding is less common and can be caused when the system backs up through the internal drains inside your property.
If the flooding is caused by a blockage in a public sewer, Wessex Water will arrange for the sewer to be unblocked at their cost. If exceptional weather has caused the public sewer to flood, Wessex Water will clean up and assess whether any remedial work can be carried out.
Wessex Water will also provide a clean-up service where possible, within 12 hours where your property is flooded internally and within 24 hours for external flooding.
You are responsible for the length of the drain that takes waste water from within your property up to your boundary or to the point where it joins with pipework from another property.
You are also responsible for:
You are also responsible for preventing blockages by avoiding flushing items such as wet wipes, which should be disposed of in the bin.
The Council's Environmental Health Team can help by offering advice on private drains and sewage treatment systems, helping to identify who is responsible for any repairs or blockages. We are responsible for enforcing legislation that ensures that buildings have sufficient and satisfactory provision for drainage.
If we are called in to investigate a damaged or blocked drain and the person(s) responsible are not taking the necessary remedial action, a legal notice may be served on the owners of all affected properties under the Building Act 1984 or the Public Health Acts. This will require them to carry out the necessary work to repair or unblock the drains. The Notice will require repairs to be carried out by a certain date. If the notice is not complied with, the Council may complete the work and the cost, plus any administrative fees, will be charged.
Highway drainage systems help to remove surface (rain) water off the road and make it safe for drivers and other users.
The highway drainage system includes roadside drains and gullies which are usually located within the public highway/pavement. Highway drainage systems are not designed to receive water from nearby land or properties or to act as an overflow for land drains, watercourses or sewers.
The responsibility for the highway drainage system rests with Somerset County Council Highways.
For Public Sewers - call 0345 600 4 600 or visit Wessex Water
For sewer flooding - call 0345 850 5959 (24 hour) or visit Wessex Water
For defective private drains and septic tanks, call Environmental Services or you can report online here: Report a sewer or drain problem
For drainage in relation to roads and highways, contact Somerset County Council on 0300 123 2224.