Drainage Problems

Drainage/Sewers FAQs 

From 1st October 2011 blocked sewers and associated problems are no longer dealt with by the Council. They are handled by one of three water companies depending on who is your provider; Anglian Water, Severn Trent Water or Thames Water.


Who should I contact in the first instance? 

If it’s just affecting your property please refer to ‘Who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked drain?’. 

If the problem is affecting two or more properties please refer to ‘Who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked sewer? 

If you are in a block of flats or industrial park the responsibility could lie with the management company/landlord (if the blockage/defect is within the boundary of the flats) or your water company (if outside of the boundary).


What is a drain? 

A Drain is a pipe taking wastewater (from sink, bath, toilet etc.) or surface water (rain) from a single property to the boundary or to join a sewer. Once the drain reaches the boundary it becomes a lateral drain until it joins a sewer. 


Who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked drain? 

Homeowners are responsible for the length of drain that takes wastewater away from their property up to its boundary or to where it becomes a sewer. 

Private householders should contact a drain clearance company. You can search for a Trading Standards approved company on https://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/find-a-business/. It is worth checking your household insurance to see if you have cover for unblocking or repairing drains.  Your water company is responsible for lateral drains outside the boundary of a property.

Private flat - check your lease to see who is responsible. If you are then you will need to contact a private drain clearance company. If the management company/landlord is responsible you will need to report it to them.

Private Tenants, (including Housing Association), please contact your landlord or management agent/company. If they fail to act promptly to unblock or repair the drain then you should contact our the Environmental Improvement Team using the following link.


What is a sewer? 

A Sewer is a pipe taking wastewater or surface water from two or more properties.


Who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked sewer? 

As of the 1st October 2011 your water company either Anglian WaterSevern Trent Water or Thames Water is responsible for the majority of blocked sewers and should be contacted in the first instance. 


If the problem is affecting a block of flats or an industrial park the responsibility may be with the management company.


If there is a pumping station within the sewer it may be that this is not transferred on the 1st October 2011. Please check your water company's webpage for further information.


You should only report sewer problems to the Council once you have contacted your water company and they have advised they are not responsible for the sewer.


If you wish to report a drainage complaint to the Council please use Self Service online


How can I prevent blockages occurring? 

  • Don’t put fat or oil into your drainage system. Leave them to cool then place in a suitable container and put them in the bin. Mop up fats and oils from your cooking utensils with kitchen paper towel and throw it in the bin.

  • Never flush nappies, wipes, incontinence pads, sanitary towels, cotton buds or condoms down the toilet. Put them in the bin.

  • Never allow rubble, or other objects to fall into the drain or inspection chamber.

  • Leave manhole covers clear of heavy pots or paving slabs to enable easy access.

  • Control tree planting and growth near drains to prevent tree roots penetrating the sewerage system and causing damage.


Where can I get Drainage Maps? 

Public Sewer maps are the responsibility of your water company Anglian Water - locating assets,  Severn Trent Water - building and development or Thames Water Property searches. You may be able to view historic information at the West Northamptonshire Council Record Office.


Who is responsible for repairing or replacing manhole covers? 

The owner of the drain, sewer or other service is responsible. If the manhole is in the road or public park and poses a danger to public safety, please refer to West Northamptonshire Council.  Out of hours emergency phone no: 07000 782112


Neighbours are abusing the drains what should we do? 

If you see someone emptying fat or oil down a drain please contact your water company Anglian Water - sewers and drainsSevern Trent Water - reporting a problem or Thames Water - help and advice in the first instance. If you think the fat or oil etc is being put down a road gully and could pollute a watercourse please contact the Environment Agency Emergency line on 0800 807060 or via http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk 


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