Sewer adoptions

Updated legislation on the adoption of new sewers and lateral drains affects the process for developers who wish to connect pipes to a public sewer.

Regulations that are due to become law soon will require that new sewers and lateral drains which connect to a public sewer must be adopted by the UK’s sewerage companies. These cover new sewers and laterals, and are in addition to the regulations being introduced to cover existing sewers and lateral drains.


Ongoing developments

Where an agreement under Section 104 of the Water Industry Act 1991 is in place for sewers which are connected to the public sewerage system on 1 July, the sewers transferred automatically on October 1 and the agreement therefore has no ongoing purpose. It ceased to have effect in so far as it relates to sewers and lateral drains that are the subject of the transfer regulations.

Where a Section 104 agreement also covers assets that were not eligible for transfer, for instance surface water sewers draining direct to a watercourse, the agreement continues in force in respect of those assets, including any provisions for a bond or surety in respect of the works covered by the provisions of the agreement that are yet to be concluded.

Existing Section 104 agreements for sewers which were not constructed or connected to the public system by 1 July , 2011, will remain valid until construction work is completed.


Supplementary transfer arrangements

The transfer regulations provide for the making of a supplementary transfer scheme. This recognises the Government’s intention that when Section 42 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 comes into effect, it will introduce a requirement for new sewers and lateral drains that connect to the public sewerage system to be automatically adopted as 'public' by sewerage companies.

The date for this part of the Act coming into effect has yet to be set and, as a result, sewers and lateral drains connected to the public sewerage system after 1 July, 2011, but before Section 42 comes into effect, will remain private for the time being unless they have been the subject of an agreement under Section 104 agreement for their adoption by sewerage companies as 'public' assets.

The making of a supplementary transfer scheme upon Section 42 coming into effect will ensure the automatic adoption by sewerage companies of sewers and lateral drains built in this interim period. This will ensure that there is no legacy of private sewers connected to the public sewerage system as a result of the main transfer taking place ahead of the new arrangements for automatic adoption of newly connected sewers and lateral drains. The arrangements for the supplementary transfer scheme will be the subject of a separate consultation.


Section 42 enactment

Sewers constructed and connected after Section 42 comes into effect will be subject to new build arrangements, except where exempted under the terms of transitional arrangements that are proposed for inclusion in the commencement order. These will provide for existing approvals (i.e. where Building Regulations or other approvals exist) to be deemed to satisfy the requirements for construction to “approved” standards.

At present, as part of the 1991 Water Industry Act, a Section 106 agreement must be obtained by developers to make a connection to a public sewer.

Under the new legislation, developers will also have to obtain a Section 104 agreement, in advance of obtaining a Section 106 agreement. This agreement is being updated, and, as well as dealing with layout, location and design standards, it will include in particular the requirement for the sewerage company to adopt all sewers and laterals on satisfactory completion.

A specific condition of a Section 104 agreement is that the new sewer development meets the government’s proposed Mandatory Build Standard (MBS), which will set out the required standards in the design and construction of new sewers and lateral drains.

Defra (The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) is drafting the new MBS, and the department has indicated that this will be consulted on in due course.

The water and building industries are also updating their guidelines for developers, called the Sewers for Adoption (currently version 6), principally to introduce design standards for lateral drains and pumping stations.

The new edition, called SfA 7, cannot be formally introduced until the MBS has been agreed, but an addendum to SfA 6 is now available detailing some of the changes that will be incorporated in SfA 7.

A date for the introduction of the new legislation above has yet to be set.

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