Reliable, rapid drain unblocking…

01227 252361


A Home Owners Guide to Water Supply and Drainage in Kent

A Home Owners Guide to Water Supply and Drainage in Kent

In the UK having a grasp of water and sewerage services is crucial. It’s not just about maintaining a safe living space but also it is about averting problems that could impact your household and well being. This guide examines the workings of water and sewer systems shedding light on homeowners duties in keeping these systems in check.

Understanding Water Supply Systems in Kent

It’s important for all homeowners to grasp the workings of the water supply system in the UK and drainage in Kent, and know who oversees it. This section explores into the management of these systems, the journey of water from its source, to your taps, and how water quality is maintained and monitored.

Who Provides What Water Services? 

In the UK, the structure of water service providers varies by region. In England and Wales, private companies predominantly manage water services. There are ten water and sewerage companies (WaSCs) that handle both drinking water supply and wastewater treatment. Additionally, some regions have water-only companies (WoCs) that provide just the water supply. So, for example, your water supply company is South East Water if you live in Kent. These organisations were established after the privatisation that took place in 1989. The companies are overseen by OFWAT, the Water Services Regulation Authority to ensure they follow pricing and service guidelines to safeguard consumers.

In Scotland, Scottish Water is responsible, for water and wastewater services. It is a government owned entity that operates based on set principles. Scottish Water is answerable to the Scottish Government. The Water Industry Commission for Scotland oversees service tariffs and quality.

Northern Ireland Water, another government owned corporation manages water and wastewater services in Northern Ireland under the supervision of the Northern Ireland Authority, for Utility Regulation.

Water Supply Infrastructure: 

The journey of water from its source to your taps involves several critical stages:

Source and Treatment: Water is normally sourced from rivers, reservoirs, or underground aquifers. Once collected, it undergoes treatment to meet the current drinking water standards, although some people would dispute this! This process includes filtration to remove small particles, and chemical treatment to eliminate harmful bacteria and viruses.

Distribution: Treated water is kept in reservoirs before being distributed through a network of underground pipes. This pipe network is designed to supply water efficiently across certain geographical areas, ensuring that every household receives a consistent and reliable supply.

Home Connection: Ultimately water reaches individual properties via service pipes that connect the mains in the street to the property. Homeowners are commonly responsible for the maintenance of the pipes that run from the boundary of their property into the home. Regular checks for leaks and damages can prevent significant water loss and potential property damage.

Water Quality and Regulation:

Water quality is of paramount importance, and in the UK, it is rigorously regulated to ensure safety and health standards are upheld:

Regulatory Authorities: In England and Wales, the Drinking Water Inspectorate (this is not made up honestly) checks water companies to ensure they adhere to regulations and deliver safe, clean drinking water. Scotland has its own regulator for Drinking Water Quality, while Northern Ireland’s Drinking Water Inspectorate (NI) is responsible for the role.

Monitoring and Adherence: Water providers must consistently monitor the quality of the drinking water they distribute and undergo audits and inspections. This involves testing for chemical and biological contaminants to guarantee that the water remains safe, for consumption.

Consumer Communication: It is mandatory for water companies to supply consumers with reports that outline water quality standards and compliance with requirements. These reports are designed to inform consumers about the safety of their drinking water and any actions taken throughout the year.

Managing Sewerage and Drainage

Maintaining sewerage and drainage systems is essential for upholding overall hygiene and environmental well being in neighbourhoods. In this segment we look into drainage system variations and outline maintenance duties, who is responsible for sewage and consider options for households without access to municipal mains sewage networks.

 Types of Sewer Systems

  • Foul Water Sewers: These systems deal exclusively with wastewater (from inside the house (e.g., toilets, kitchen sinks, and bathrooms). They ensure that wastewater is carried away to treatment facilities where it can be processed and treated to prevent pollution.
  • Surface Water Drains: These are designed to collect rainwater from roofs and paved areas and usually direct it into nearby watercourses or soakaways. This system helps manage stormwater and reduces flooding risks.
  • Combined Sewers: In some older properties or urban areas, combined sewers handle both surface runoff and foul water. While efficient in space utilisation, these systems can become overwhelmed during heavy rainfall, leading to sewer overflows.

 Ownership and Responsibilities – Is it my Problem?

  • Public and Private Sewers: Understanding the distinction between public and private sewers is important as misunderstand could cost you dearly. Typically the local water authority manages sewers which are the primary pipes that gather wastewater from various properties. In contrast private sewers are usually owned by the properties they serve and upkeep is the responsibility of property owners, until the sewer links with the system.
  • Householder Responsibilities: Property owners are responsible for the drainage pipes that connect their homes to the main sewer. Known as lateral drains, these are the sections of the sewerage system that run from the boundary of a property to the main sewer pipes. Ensuring these are clear and in good repair can prevent a range of problems, from blockages and back-ups to environmental pollution.
  • Legal and Environmental Compliance: Homeowners must ensure that their sewage disposal methods comply with local environmental regulations. Misconnections, where appliances are incorrectly plumbed into surface water drains, can lead to pollution incidents that may result in fines and you can be charged for putting this right.

 Septic Tanks and Cesspits

  • Alternative Sewage Disposal: In rural areas where properties are not connected to main sewer lines, septic tanks or cesspits are commonly used. Septic tanks treat wastewater and release the cleaned effluent back into the ground, while cesspits are holding tanks that need regular emptying.
  • Maintenance and Regulations: Owners of properties with septic tanks or cesspits must comply with specific regulations that govern their use, maintenance, and periodic emptying. Septic tanks should be inspected regularly to ensure they are processing sewage correctly, and cesspits must be emptied by licensed waste handlers.
  • Environmental Impact: Proper maintenance of septic tanks and cesspits is crucial to prevent pollution of groundwater and surrounding land. Homeowners must ensure these systems are not only legally compliant but also environmentally sound to avoid the risks of fines and the costs associated with environmental clean-up.

Practical Tips for Homeowners

  1. Conserving Water: Simple measures like fixing leaks, installing water-efficient appliances, and using water wisely can lead to significant savings on water bills and help conserve this vital resource.
  2. Avoiding Common Pitfalls: Items such as wipes, cooking grease, and certain types of household chemicals should never be disposed of down the drain as they can cause blockages and expensive sewer repairs.
  3. When to Contact Professionals: Regular inspections by professionals using CCTV drain surveying equipment can help catch issues before they become serious. Homeowners should not hesitate to contact their water service providers if they suspect problems or need guidance on their water and sewerage system.


Understanding the water and sewer systems in your home is more than knowing about fixing problem. It is also about being proactive to maintain efficiency and safety. Performing inspections and regular maintenance can help you save time and money in the future.

Reach out to your water authority or a reputable drainage company in Kent to arrange for an assessment or discussion to confirm that your water and sewer setups meet the required standards and are working well.