Do water and sewerage companies wave goodbye to surface water?

Written By: Sustainable Drainage Engineer, Cambridge City Council

One of the most interesting parts of the National SuDS Standard consultation is not what is in it but what is in the consultation on the automatic adoption of new gravity foul sewers and lateral drains. This implements a change in the Water Industry Act that was proposed in the Flood and Water Management Act.

The change proposed is that automatic adoption will only happen if there are standards issued by the Minister. Interestingly, only foul standards have been issued, does this imply that automatic adoption will only be for foul sewers and laterals? So what happens to surface water sewers and laterals. If you look at the definition of Sustainable Drainage in the NSS consultation that says “those parts of a drainage system that are not vested in a sewerage undertaker.”

So does that mean surface water sewers are now sustainable drainage by default?

If that is the case, then apart from a surface water drainage system legacy, water and sewerage companies cease to have anything to do with surface water. It will be all down to the SAB.

Consultation for the automatic arrangements for new foul sewers and lateral drains closed on the 31 January 2012.




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Hi Simon, I am also wrestling with this issue but have come to the opposite conclusion. A pipe taking drainage from two or more properties is by definition a sewer and as such can be adopted by a water company. So what about a pipe that joins two soakaways each of which serves two properties. Is it a sewer?

Simon Bunn says:

Hi Martin, I agree with you that they can, but are they no longer obliged to do so? And can only automatically adopt foul sewers? It’s this piece of the legislation that has set me wondering:

106B Requirement to enter into agreement before construction
(1) A person may exercise the right under section 106(1) in respect of a lateral drain or sewer constructed after the commencement of this section only if Conditions 1 and 2 are satisfied.
(2) Condition 1 is that an agreement was entered into under section 104 in respect of the drain or sewer.
(3) Condition 2 is that the agreement included—
(a) provision about the standards according to which the drain or sewer was to be constructed, and
(b) provision about adoption of the drain or sewer by the sewerage undertaker.
(4) Provision for the purposes of Condition 2(a) must either—
(a) incorporate or accord with standards published by the Minister,
(b) depart from those standards by express consent of the parties to the agreement.

There have only been foul standards issued by the Minister (which I find a bit odd and at odds with Sewers for Adoption 7) so if there have been no standards issued is it possible to depart from them?

Also is a pipe connecting a pond to a watercourse a surface water sewer? And is that pond now considered part of the ordinary watercourse network?

I also wonder what can be considered a sustainable drainage ‘system’? As long as it meets the standards, is it everything to the discharge location?

So many questions……

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