- Environment Protection
Drainage and Sewage
The pipe that exits your house is called a drain. If this drain then joins a drain from another property then, from that joint onwards, the pipe becomes a public sewer and is the responsibility of Anglian Water.
In rented properties the landlord normally has overall responsibility for arranging clearance but it is reasonable for tenants to carry out simple tasks like keeping gulley gratings free from leaves and not letting food wastes, fat or oil get into the drain. However there may be a clause in the rental / leasing agreement which makes the tenant liable for any costs incurred. Also, if the drain is used by only that property then responsibility lies with the landlord; if the drain is shared by multiple properties, this is the responsibility of Anglian Water.
Effective October 2011 all shared sewers are public and therefore the responsibility of Anglian Water. These are maintained free of charge by Anglian Water, telephone 08457 145 145 to speak with a customer services agent.
There is one exception, where the building consists of flats; sewers do not become public until they connnect with a property of different ownership.
If Anglian Water advise the drain is your responsibility, you will be required to arrange for the drain to be cleaned. The Council does not have the facility, nor does it arrange, for drain cleaning.
Where it is not known whether a pipe is a drain, a public sewer or a private sewer, owners could consider requesting Anglian Water to attend. If Anglian Water find it is a public sewer they would clear it free of charge. If they find it is private they might offer to clear it for a fee, though they are not obliged to.
Conducting works on drains and sewers
Please note that all new drainage work and repairs to existing drainage must comply with the Building Regulations. Before commencing any new work or repairs please contact North Norfolk District Council's Building Control Services for advice or to arrange any inspection and approval that may be needed (this would not be necessary just to clear a blockage). They may also hold copies of original building plans for many properties and can often provide a date of construction over the telephone to help a quick decision about whether a sewer is public or private.
For further guidance on preventative maintenance to sewers please see Anglian Water's website.
The Council has statutory powers to require drains and private sewers to be cleared and if necessary can enforce the required work at the expense of the owner(s). This action is currently taken by Environmental Health . It is always preferable for residents to resolve drainage matters themselves as referring investigations to Environmental Health will incur additional administration costs.
Environmental Health staff will determine the extent of the problem, the number of properties involved, the action required to resolve the problem, and who is responsible. This usually results in either informal or formal action being taken.
Environmental Health will try to advise home-owners of the most appropriate action to take.
A Statutory Notice would require the affected persons to remove obstructions from the private sewer within 48 hours. If the notice is not complied with, the work can be completed by the council and the cost for the works, plus any administrative fees, will be charged to those responsible.
A Building Act 1984, Section 59 Notice would require the responsible people to repair the damaged parts of a private sewer. The notice or covering letter will indicate all other parties involved. If the notice is not complied with, the council will complete the work and the cost, plus any administrative fees, will be charged. Information about rights of appeal is also set out within this notice.
Problems relating to public sewers must be dealt with by Anglian Water who are responsible for maintaining the sewers in your area.
Please be aware that sometimes it is not possible to identify the location of drainage defects and who is responsible until any blockage has been cleared. Often detailed surveys, using closed circuit television or other equipment, is necessary to trace the drain and identify defects.