Drains and sewers currently maintained by householders are to be transferred to local water companies under new regulations approved by Parliament last week.
The new rules will see Thames Water take control of an estimated 40,000km of lateral drains – the pipes carrying a property’s waste under another property – and sewers across the London and Thames Valley areas.
The company estimates the transfer will add around £35m to its annual overheads.
Environment Minister Richard Benyon said the transfer would “stop the financial threat of customers being hit with huge repair bills for sewers that sometimes aren’t even on their property.
The Minister said freeing householders of responsibility would result in “a much fairer and simpler approach which will also improve the overall quality of the network.”
Thames says it will begin contacting affected property owners from today (4th July) but says the sections of drainage being transferred will normally be those “shared by two or more properties.”
Chief Executive Martin Baggs says: “Although this will be a very big operational challenge for us, we welcome the clarity and peace of mind that the Government’s decision to transfer private sewers to water companies will bring for our customers.”
Baggs added: “This change-over will not be straightforward for water companies: for example, overnight we at Thames Water will take on an additional network of sewers longer than some other sewerage companies’ entire sewerage networks.
“So we would urge customers to bear with us while we assess the condition of the newly-acquired pipes and set about monitoring and maintaining them.”