In UK, private sewers transfer will relieve householders of 'unknown' burden

July 26, 2007
Water UK welcomes the government's consultation on the transfer of private sewers to the ten statutory water and sewerage companies in England and Wales. Private sewers are the pipes that connect two or more households to the public sewer network that are owned by householders. Currently it is estimated that up to 10 million households in England and Wales could be connected to a private sewer. The consultation also covers the transfer of lateral drains -- these are the pipe serving...

July 25, 2007 -- Water UK welcomes the government's consultation on the transfer of private sewers to the ten statutory water and sewerage companies in England and Wales.

Private sewers are the pipes that connect two or more households to the public sewer network that are owned by householders. Currently it is estimated that up to 10 million households in England and Wales could be connected to a private sewer. The consultation also covers the transfer of lateral drains -- these are the pipe serving individual properties that cross into third party land, for example the public highway, to reach the public sewer.

Pamela Taylor, Water UK Chief Executive, said: "The majority of private sewer owners do not realize they have responsibility for their sewers until something goes wrong. Transferring the responsibility of these sewers to water and sewerage companies will remove the risk of householders getting large and unexpected bills to carry out emergency repairs.

"The transfer will also mean householders won't have to organize repairs themselves or have the hassle of trying to get part of the costs back from neighbors who share responsibility for the private sewers,

"With the private sewers transfer, repairs and maintenance will be arranged and carried out by the experts with costs being spread over the whole customer base, making the arrangement much fairer."

There will be a cost associated with the transfer that will result in an increase in sewerage bills. At this stage it is too early to tell how much the rise will be, however, current estimates are between £3 and £11 per annum.

Water UK has worked hard over the past few years to assess the costs and benefits in order that the government can be properly informed. These will depend to a large extent on the range of assets to be transferred and the approach taken to the phasing of the transfer. Water UK favors the automatic overnight option for transfer proposed in the consultation as we believe this will result in the lowest overall cost to customers and the quickest resolution of the current problems.

Water UK estimates that the transfer of private sewers to water and sewerage companies would increase the length of sewers companies would have to maintain by between one third and two thirds, or up to 200,000 km.

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