The CON29DW questions explained – surface water connections

Our regular series examining the CON29DW looks at questions 2.2 and 2.3 – the surface water connection.

In last month’s article we looked at question 2.1 of the CON29DW, which deals with foul water drainage. This month we look at surface water, which is covered in 2.2 and 2.3.

As we mentioned last month, surface water is primarily rainwater which falls on the property and has to be removed. Unlike foul water, this doesn’t require treatment and is therefore usually directed into nearby watercourses.

The traditional method for disposing of surface water is via a surface water sewer. These are maintained by the local water company, and a charge is payable for this service (comprising approximately 36% of the water bill).  If any portion of a property drains to a public sewer, surface water charges are payable.

The answers to question 2.2 confirms whether a property drains by this method, with 2.3 detailing whether a charge is payable for the service. For unmeasured properties, this will be based on the rateable value of the property. For measured properties, sewerage charges are calculated as a percentage of fresh water used plus an annual standing charge.

In the majority of cases, the answer to both questions 2.2 and 2.3 will be the same, as most connected properties have to pay charges. There are however, some exceptions.

The most common of these is with sewers subject to a Section 104 adoption agreement. Where an agreement includes surface water sewers, which don’t connect to the public system (i.e. they discharge directly into a watercourse, rather than an adopted sewer), the property will be deemed connected, but no charge will be payable to the water company as they will not be the current owner of the sewers. When these sewers are adopted by the water company, a charge will be payable.

As with foul water, drainage to a public sewer is the simplest, most convenient method of disposing of surface water. However, a variety of other methods are available.

Water from some properties drains directly into a watercourse or into the ground. Soakaways, which assist water draining into the ground are another common artificial method of disposal. These are the responsibility of the homeowner and, although an effective method under normal circumstances, they can struggle to cope with heavy rainfall.

An increasingly common method of surface water disposal is via Sustainable Drainage Systems, commonly known as SuDS. These are found in many modern developments, and drain water through methods such as balancing ponds and permeable paving, avoiding the need for public sewers.

SuDS are generally maintained initially by the developer, and then by the local authority. As they’re not the responsibility of water companies, the CON29DW doesn’t always contain information about them. Question 3.3 of the local authority’s CON29 may contain further information regarding SuDS.

It is more common for properties not to be connected to surface water sewers than foul , but nonetheless, it is still something that any new homeowner needs to be aware of. Inadequate drainage can cause serious problems for a property, and we would therefore always recommend checking how surface water is disposed of.

Further information regarding surface water drainage can be found on Severn Trent Water’s website.