It is a common feature for land and property on the edge of towns and villages to be crossed by sewage pipes serving the local area. As this equipment is often owned and maintained by the local water authority most landowners would be forgiven for thinking they don’t have to worry if something goes wrong but this isn’t necessarily the case.
In reality, where sewage pipes fail and flood onto a property, it is almost always the property owner’s responsibility to deal with the mess. Thankfully this doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, property owners can be caught by surprise when the water authority refuse to clean up or pay compensation.
Under the Water Industry Act 1991 water authorities do not have to pay compensation for a burst sewer pipe on private land unless they have been negligent. OFWAT supports this exemption because without it, water companies would face large unexpected costs which would result in substantial increases in customer’s bills.
Most flooding cases are not due to negligence of the water authority, instead they will be due to exceptional weather or a blockage, in these instances the property owner will have to make a claim on their own insurance to cover the damage and clean up costs.
The clean up costs could be significant so it is worth checking if your insurance policy covers sewage bursts.