Surface water drainage

Surface water drainage occurs when rainwater falls on a property and drains away.

Most rainwater falling on properties drains into public sewers owned by the ten water and sewerage companies in England and Wales. The companies are responsible for removing and processing this rainwater. The companies collect around £1 billion each year to cover the costs of this service.  If rainwater drains from your property into a public sewer, you will be charged for surface water drainage through your sewerage bill.

If rainwater does not drain from your property into a public sewer, because you have a soakaway or similar, you may be entitled to a surface water drainage rebate.

Surface water drainage and highways drainage chargesSurface water drainage

Surface water drainage occurs when rainwater from your property drains into the sewer. Your company collects and treats this surface water. There is a charge for this service.

You will pay for surface water drainage in your bill in one of three ways:

  • a fee in the standing charge
  • a charge based on the rateable value of your property
  • through a charge related to the type of property you live in

If you can prove that the surface rainwater from your property does not drain into the public sewer, you may be entitled to an exemption from future surface water charges. You may also be able to claim a refund for some money you have previously paid for surface water drainage. If you qualify for an exemption you will receive it through a lower charge. The level of rebate can be found in your sewerage company’s charging scheme.

Surface water drainage rebates

Surface water drainage is where rainwater is removed from properties.

Most rainwater falling on properties drains into public sewers owned by the ten water and sewerage companies in England and Wales. The surface water drainage charge covers the costs of taking away and treating surface water that runs from properties into a sewerage company’s sewers. This includes water that flows through gutters or which runs into the road and ends up in a company owned sewer.

Applying for a surface water drainage rebate

If no surface water from your property enters a public sewer then you may qualify for a reduction in your sewerage charge (‘surface water drainage rebate’).

Companies do not know the surface water drainage arrangements of all the individual properties in its area. This means that you usually need to make an application for a rebate.

You should apply to your company providing evidence that none of your surface water enters the public sewer. Your company should explain the kind of evidence that it would need to see. They will check whether you qualify and if you do:

  • you will not be charged for surface water drainage on future bills
  • some of the amount you paid previously may be refunded

Sometimes your company does know, or might reasonably be expected to have known, that your property was not connected to its sewerage system for surface water drainage. In this case we would expect it to apply the rebate (and refund any money overpaid) from the date at which it knew (or might reasonably be expected to have known) the property was not connected.

You do not need to use a third party to apply for a rebate, you can apply directly to your company.

If you have problems with a surface water drainage rebate application, and you are unable to resolve them with your company, you should contact theConsumer Council for Water.

Highway drainage

Water that drains from roads and footpaths flows into public drainage systems. This is known as highway drainage. Water companies recover the costs of providing highway drainage from their customers. Highway drainage benefits everyone that uses the road system, so there is a case for recovering the costs directly from roads authorities or users. However, legislation prevents this.

In a report ‘Water charging in England and Wales’ published in 1998 the government indicated that it had no plans to change legislation as there would be little benefit in the changes and it would otherwise have to be collected through charges such as council tax.