Flooding – who’s responsible

Flooding is a complex issue and one in which several organisations are involved.

As a wastewater company, we're not responsible for investigating groundwater, river flooding or surface water problems. This is the role of other agencies.

It’s our responsibility to ensure our customers can continue to use their wastewater services.

Our priority is to keep our sewers flowing and manage the flows they are built to carry, such as waste from toilets, sinks, showers and washing machines, as well as rainwater from roofs and driveways.

Flood water

Our sewers aren’t designed to carry millions of litres of floodwater and neither should they be. We work alongside local councils, the Environment Agency (EA) and others to help alleviate the effects of flooding on the community.

See the below diagram which shows the different roles and responsibilities for various types of flooding.

Click image to enlarge

We’re also committed to working with all of the relevant organisations to help address the issue of flooding.

Click on the links below for further information on which organisation to contact in different types of flooding.

Local councils are responsible for road gullies. You should contact the council if gullies are blocked and water cannot enter them.

The Environment Agency has a 24-hour Floodline on 0845 9881 188. If your property is flooded by river water, you should contact your home insurance company.

You should call our 24-hour customer service team on 0330 303 0368 (calls charged at local rate).

Who's responsible for recovery?

After flooding, some recovery activities are the responsibility of water companies and some the responsibility of other agencies.

The list below shows who handles different aspects of flood recovery:

  • Replacing missing or dislodged manholes 
    Water companies
  • Washing silt and sewer debris from streets 
    Highways Authority
  • Cleaning highway debris, gullies and drainage ditches 
    Highways Authority
  • Washing and removing silt and sewer debris from open spaces 
    Local authority
  • Removing silt and sewer debris from public sewers and pumping stations 
    Water companies
  • Removing litter from watercourses 
    Environment Agency
  • Pumping flood water from public areas 
    Environment Agency
  • Disposing of flood-damaged property 
    Local authority
  • Removing sandbags 
    Local authority
  • Controlling access to water hydrant use 
    Water companies

If your property has been flooded by water from our sewers we'll clean up as soon as possible. It's also important to contact your insurers, who may agree to make alternative clean-up arrangements.

For all other flooding use the list below:

  • Internal cleaning of insured properties
    Insurance companies
  • Internal cleaning of non-insured properties
    Private owners
  • External cleaning (e.g. gardens and drives) of insured properties
    Insurance companies
  • External cleaning (e.g. gardens and drives) of non-insured properties
    Private owners
  • Providing dehumidifiers or driers to insured properties
    Insurance companies
  • Providing dehumidifiers or driers to non-insured properties
    Private owners
  • Restoring septic tanks
    Private owners
  • Pumping out flooded properties
    Insurance companies and private owners
  • Restoring allotments and food crops
    Insurance companies and private owners
  • Restoring internal electricity to insured properties
    Insurance companies and private owners
  • Restoring internal electricity to non-insured properties
    Private owners
  • Restoring telecoms
    Telecoms companies
  • Restoring gas supply
    Gas companies
  • Restoring electricity to property meter or fuse box
    Electricity companies
  • Restoring free-flowing public sewers
    Water companies
  • Restoring free-flowing private drainage
    Private owners
  • Restoring public wastewater pumping stations
    Water companies
  • Restoring private wastewater pumping stations
    Private owners
  • Assessing the impact of flooding on roads, footpaths and rail
    Water companies, Environment Agency, Highway Authority, local authority, electricity companies, gas companies, telecoms companies
  • Preventing groundwater flooding 
    Local authority
  • Approving the pumping of groundwater into watercourses 
    Environment Agency
  • Providing and maintaining toilet facilities 
    Local authority
  • Providing accommodation for displaced residents during clean-up 
    Insurance companies, local authority, private owners
  • Security for property 
    Police
  • Chairing strategic recovery group and local meetings
    Local authority
  • Sourcing suitable location and welfare for recovery teams
    Local authority
  • Local co-ordination of agencies
    Local authority
  • Giving insurance advice
    Insurance companies
  • Providing health leaflets
    Local authority
  • Providing sewer flooding advice leaflets
    Water companies