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Blocked drains & sewers

Responsibility for drains and sewers

On 1 October 2011 ownership and responsibility for the maintenance of private sewers and lateral drains was transferred to the water and sewage companies in England and Wales.

In Slough this means sewers and lateral drains are owned and maintainable by Thames Water Utilities. Responsibility for the maintenance of drains stays with the householder.

What is a drain?

A single pipe which runs from a property and takes sewage and waste water to join a sewer.

What is a sewer?

A pipe that takes sewage and waste water from 2 or more properties.

What is a lateral drain?

A lateral drain is the part of a drain that lies outside of your property boundary under private land or public land, such as a footpath or road, and connects to a sewer.

More information on how the transfer of responsibility for private sewers affects you and your property can be found on Thames Water’s website.

What if a drain or sewer becomes blocked

After 1 October 2011 Thames Water Utilities are responsible for the clearance of blockages and repair of damage in sewers or lateral drains. The responsibility for the removal of blockages in drains within the property boundary stays the responsibility of the householder.

If there is a problem with a sewer or drain at your property it is important to establish whether the problem is likely to be:

  • in the sewer - if so it's the responsibility of Thames Water or
  • in the drain or internal plumbing - if so it's the responsibility of the householder.

This will avoid unnecessary call outs by Thames Water engineers, for which you may be charged. Talk to your neighbours, if they are affected too then the problem is likely to be in a sewer and you will need to call Thames Water on 0845 9200 800 to report the problem.

If the problem only affects you then it is likely the problem is in a drain or with your household plumbing. You will need to resolve the problem yourself.

If a householder fails to remove a blockage in a drain for which they are responsible, we can serve them with a legal notice where they will have to remove the blockage within 48 hours. If they fail to do this we will arrange for the drain to be cleared to prevent any risks to public health and the householders will be charged the costs of the work.