The answer isn’t straightforward. It’s not just one organisation who’s responsible for dealing with and preventing floods.
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.
Southern Water’s responsibilities around floods
The part we play is around the wastewater function of what we do. So that’s all the water that ends up in your drains (water from toilets, taps, appliances and run-off rainwater) that we take away from your home via the sewage system. Our job – when it comes to preventing flooding – is to manage those sewers so the contents continue to flow through them.
Why do wastewater floods happen?
No matter how hard we try, the twin impact of increasing population and climate change mean our sewers sometimes struggle to handle the millions of litres of floodwater that pass through it. But, most of the time, it’s a block in the sewer that’s the culprit.
We work closely with a host of other organisations – who also have a part to play – to prevent flooding. Have a look at the picture below to get an idea of who is responsible for what and where we fit in.
Flooding caused by a blocked gully
If you see a blocked gully that’s causing a flood, please get in touch with your local council as they are responsible for them.
Who do I call about a flooded river?
If you see a river that’s flooding the land around it, or has burst its banks, please get in touch with The Environment Agency on their dedicated flood-line number 0845 888 1188.
The Environment Agency is responsible for building, operating and maintaining flood defences and for issuing flood warnings.
Who’s responsible for putting everything right after a flood?
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: