Private Sewer Transfer – Detailed Information About the Transfer


The regulations detailing the transfer are the Water Industry (Schemes for Adoption of Private Sewers) Regulations 2011 (SI 2011/1566). The actual transfer has occurred under Section 102 of the Water Industry Act (1991).


Eligible sewers subject to Section 104 agreements transferred automatically in October 2011. Sewers connected after July 2011 should be included in the secondary transfer, if not adopted under usual procedures prior to that being implemented. Any sewers covered by Section 104 agreements which do not meet the requirements of the transfer (see section ‘What hasn’t transferred’ ), such as pressurised mains or surface water sewers discharging to a watercourse, will not transfer automatically and will continue to be subject to the Section 104 agreement. Prior to the new national mandatory build standards, developers will continue to have the option of entering into a Section 104 agreement for any newly constructed sewers.


Eligible sewers connected to the public system after 1st July 2011 will transfer under a secondary scheme. This will occur six months after the introduction of new sewer adoption procedures under Section 42 of the Flood and Water Management Act (2010). To date, DEFRA is yet to announce when these procedures will be implemented.


Private pumping stations serving more than a single property were included in the transfer, and water companies were given until October 2016 to adopt these assets. This also applied to any related equipment, such as pressurised sewers. The extended date for transfer was due to the varying standard of pumping stations, and to give water companies time to identify all relevant private pumping stations. Water Companies each undertook their own programmes to assess private pumping stations, and adopted them between 1st October 2011 and 1st October 2016.


When Section 42 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 comes into force it will then be a requirement for sewers to be adopted prior to connection to the public system. Although procedures are yet to be finalized, it is proposed that a Section 104 agreement will need to be applied for and completed before the water company grants a Section 106 (permission to connect to the public sewerage system) agreement. A new national Mandatory Build Standard will also be introduced specifying the standards to which new sewers must be built. No date for this has yet been announced.


The Government estimated that a full national survey to plot the extent of private sewers and lateral drains subject to transfer would cost approximately £1 billion. As this is impractical, water companies are using records of private sewers from sources such as local authorities, developers and housing associations to update sewer records. In addition, any sewers located as part of water companies’ normal operations will be added to the sewer records as they become aware of them.


Owners of sewers wishing to appeal against the mandatory transfer were able to do so under Section 105(B) of the Water Industry Act (1991) by appealing to OFWAT Sewers subject to an appeal will remain private until the outcome is decided. Further information can be found on OFWAT’s website.