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This service aims to provide advice and guidance on all types of drainage systems.


Public Sewers

A sewer drains more than one property. It becomes a public sewer if it is adopted by the sewerage undertaker (South West Water in this region), or if it was constructed before 1st October 1937. Public Sewers are sometimes referred to as 'mains sewers'

The responsibility for clearing blockages and maintaining Public Sewers rests with South West Water. Report any problems to South West Water tel: 0844 3462020.

Lateral Drains and Private Sewers

A drain is a pipe that serves one property. A lateral drain is the part of this pipe that extends beyond the property boundary

A private sewer is a sewer that has not been adopted by South West Water and was constructed after 1st October 1937

As of 1st October 2011 any lateral drain or private sewer that flows into a public sewer will be the responsibility of South West Water. This means South West Water will be responsible for clearing blockages and maintaining these lateral drains and private sewers. These private sewers became public sewers on 1st October 2011.  Report any problems to South West Water on tel: 0844 3462020.

See the download plan to the right for details of the lateral drain and private sewer transfer

Private Pumping Stations

Private pumping stations that serve 2 or more properties and drain to public sewers will be transferred to South West Water by 1st October 2016. Gravity sewers that drain to these private pumping stations were transferred to South West Water on 1st October 2011

South West Water will be responsible for blockages to the sewer leading to these private pumping stations, but problems with the pumping station or the rising main will remain the responsibility of the property owners it serves, until it is taken over by South West Water

Septic Tanks

In areas where no foul sewer is available, one option may be the installation of a septic tank. These are usually a two or three chamber system that holds sewage to allow the solids to form a sludge at the bottom of the tank. This system provides settlement and some biological treatment. Usually the remaining effluent liquid drains to a purpose built subsurface irrigation area (soakaway). Before constructing soakaways it is important to follow guidance in BS6297:1983. Further (tertiary) treatment will be required to discharge to a watercourse such as reed bed systems and water stabilisation ponds. The installation of septic tank systems may need to be regulated by the Environment Agency tel: 08708 506 506 and may also require Planning and Building Regulation consent tel: 01237 428700

Package Sewage Treatment Plants

These systems provide a better quality effluent that may, with consent from the Environment Agency, be discharged to a watercourse. Again these systems may need Planning and Building Regulation consent tel: 01237 428700

Highway Drains

Drainage of adopted roads will generally be the responsibility of Devon County Council tel: 0845 155 1004

Ditches and Streams

Ditches and streams that cross a property are generally a 'riparian' (land owner's) responsibility. Problems with ditches or streams being stopped up etc can be reported to Torridge District Council as a Land Drainage Authority tel: 01237 428700

Controlled Waters

Rivers and large watercourses are often controlled by the Environment Agency who can be contacted on tel: 08708 506 506