Private to Public Sewer Transfer – update


1st April 2012 was supposed to see the introduction of new adoption procedures for sewers in England and Wales.

The procedure, which would see the automatic adoption of all new connections to the public system was originally scheduled to be introduced in October 2011, along with the initial phase of the private sewer transfer. This was then delayed until 1st April, and subsequently delayed again. The Welsh Assembly implemented this new procedure from 1st October 2012.


October 1st 2011 saw the majority of private sewers and lateral drains within England and Wales transfer into the ownership of the relevant sewerage companies.

Assets that did not transfer on 1st October included:

  • Any sewers not connected to the public system by 1st July.
  • Drains within the boundary of the property they serve (a drain serves a single property).
  • Sewers on Crown Land (such as prisons) were given the option of opting out.
  • Sewers owned by rail authorities.
  • Sewers and drains which do not discharge to the public system.
  • Drainage systems contained within a single property curtilage such as retail parks, caravan parks etc.
  • Private pumping stations and associated pressurised mains which serve a single property (other pumping stations transferred by October 2016, see below for details).
  • Sewers where the owner made a successful appeal to OFWAT (these can be viewed on their website
  • Private treatment works, septic tanks and cesspits.

Any owner had the right to appeal once they received the notification of transfer, up until the 30thSeptember 2011. OFWAT would then consider the appeal. During the appeals process, the asset would remain private.


The second stage of this process was originally due in October 2011, this was then delayed to April 1st2012.

Under current legislation, it is not a requirement that sewers connecting to the public system are adopted by the sewerage undertaker. Anyone has the right to connect to the public system providing they obtain consent under Section 106 of the Water Industry Act.

The new procedure, once implemented will make it a requirement for anyone wishing to connect to the public sewerage system to enter into a Section 104 adoption agreement with the Water Company prior to connection, and to make it a requirement for the Water Company to adopt the sewers at the end of the process.

The legislation in question is Section 42 of the Flood and Water Management Act (2010). This in turn modifies Section 104 of the Water Industry Act.

A consultation was launched in December 2011, taking in Water Companies, developers as well as other interested parties.

Implementation of this new procedure has been delayed indefinitely by DEFRA.


Six months after new adoption procedures are introduced the second phase of the sewer transfer was proposed take place. This should include anything connected to the public sewer network since 1st July 2011 (the cut off for the initial transfer) and the introduction of new adoption procedures. The date of this has yet to be announced by the government.