Connecting to a public sewer
If you're planning to connect or reconnect to one of our sewers, you’ll need our consent before you go ahead. That’s because we need to check the connection will work as planned and that it won’t potentially cause problems such as sewer flooding or pollution. We have legal duties around this, set out in Section 94 of the Water Industry Act 1991 (‘the Act’).
Sewer connections can be made directly to a public sewer or indirectly to a private drain that in turn discharges to a public sewer. Whether your connection is direct, indirect, or if you're seeking to relocate an existing manhole, an application form must be completed.
You can connect to a local sewer under Section 106 of the Act. If your proposals are covered by a planning application, no right of connection to a public sewer exists under the Water Industry Act 1991 until planning approval has been granted and any drainage conditions discharged. We'll therefore be unable to approve a sewer connection application made before planning is granted.
What you need to do before you apply
Step 1 – Confirm sewer type
Most of the sewers in our network are local sewers – these are designed to collect the flow of sewage from properties, such as residential buildings or retail units. In most circumstances, new sewer connections should be made to local sewers. Local sewers are further broken down into the four following types:
- Foul water sewers carry wastewater from appliances such as toilets, baths, showers, sinks, dishwashers and washing machines.
- Surface water sewers carry rainwater from rooftops, roads, driveways and paved or hardstanding areas.
- Combined sewers carry both foul water and surface water.
- Trade effluent sewers carry trade effluent from industrial trade premises.
We don’t allow foul water to be discharged to a surface water sewer, because these discharge into rivers and streams and would cause pollution. Under Section 106(2)(b)(ii) of the Act, surface water must be discharged to a surface water sewer where one is provided. If no surface water sewer is available, we may consider a connection to a combined instead.
Step 2 – Locate the sewer you want to connect to
There are several ways to determine the location of a sewer:
- Sewer records are freely available to view at your local authority offices.
- Information is available from property search providers including our own Property Searches service which offers sewer and other utilities maps for purchase.
- A drainage specialist can provide you with extensive advice on how to locate a sewer.
If you can locate a nearby manhole, this will give you an idea of where the sewer is located. If you don’t want to connect at this location, you may lift the manhole to see which way the sewer runs. Please take care – covers are heavy, and you may need assistance and/or specialist equipment.
Step 3 – Confirm ownership of the sewer
Sewer connections can be made directly to a public sewer or indirectly to a private drain that in turn discharges to a public sewer.
Public sewers serve multiple properties and are owned and maintained by South West Water. Exceptions exist, such as where the pipework was installed after July 2011. Connections to a public sewer are called direct connections.
If you want to connect to a private drainage network, you'll also need to obtain permission from the drainage owner. Connections to a private drain are called indirect connections. If you are only building an extension, you may not require a connection application. Please contact us before making an application if you have any doubts as follows:-
a) By phone on 0800 0831821
b) Request a call back here
c) Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have a public manhole in your property that you wish to move, you must seek our permission to ensure we maintain access to our sewer. This is called a manhole relocation. Please note that we refer to the location where you plan to move the manhole as the connection point.
Step 4 – Design proposed connection
Once you know the point where you want to connect, you’ll need to submit drawings showing full details of your proposal. You can prepare these yourself, so long as you’ve included all the information below, or ask your drainage consultant to do this.
The two following plans are required to support your application:
- Detailed drainage plan (scale 1:100 – 1:500) showing your entire site, with all buildings, roadways, and location and direction of flow of all private sewers/drainage and the proposed connection point to the public sewer.
- Site location plan (scale 1:500 – 1:1250) showing your site boundary within the surrounding area.
- Copy of Local Authority Planning Decision Notice or reference Number.
- Flow/discharge rate calculations for surface water. This includes any relevant details to support the connection point.
Step 5 – Apply
Please click here to download and complete a pdf application form.
We will acknowledge your application in 5 calendar days and confirm if we need any further information to confirm your application.
If your application to connect to a local sewer is approved under Section 106 you or someone you appoint will be able to undertake the connection work.
We don't currently offer competitive sewer connection quotes, unless the sewer connection is to a trunk or strategic sewer. We will notify you on reviewing the application, if we will be looking to undertake the application under S107.
Find out what you need to do before you apply by downloading our guidance notes
What happens once you have applied
Step 1 – We will review your application
Sewer connection applications are reviewed under Sections 106 of the Water Industry Act 1991. Our technical team will acknowledge your application within 5 calendar days and we will review your application and reply within 21 days. We may need to request further information if we can’t consent to your application on receipt.
Once we have sufficient information and have agreed on a satisfactory proposal, we'll issue you a 'Consent to Connect'. If you are only making indirect connections, the sewer connection process ends here.
You will then be required to send to us your Risk Assessment and Method Statements for undertaking the work. Once they are approved you can then undertake the connection works.
If you're connecting to a sewer that is on someone else's land, our consent does not give you permission to enter their land. You must seek permission from the landowner before entering their property or undertaking any works.
If you’re connecting in the Highway it is up to you to obtain your own Section 50 License from the relevant Highway Authority to undertake the works.
Please be aware that if your proposal changes, you're entitled to one change to your consent. This must be requested in writing prior to your site inspection. We'll require a revised drainage layout plan and will request additional fees if you're adding more connections.
Step 2 – Permission to carry out works to the public sewer
On receipt of your consent to connect, you or your contractor will be required to fill out the permission to carry out works to the public sewer.
As part of this you or your contractor will need to submit to us, your Risk Assessment and Method Statements.
Please see our guidance notes for further details.
Step 3 – Online Payment and other payment methods
We will notify you once your application is accepted and we require payment. As part of this we will provide you with a reference number to enable you to make payment.
The quickest payment method is online payment by Credit/Debit card.
Telephone credit/debit card
To pay by credit or debit card please call our Helpline on 0800 083 1821 between the hours of 9am and 4pm Monday to Friday.
Please note: American Express (Amex) and Via Electron are not accepted.
If you would like to make payment by BACS, South West Water’s bank details are as follows:
Bank Name and Address
Lloyds TSB Bank Plc
City Office, Corporate & Institutional
PO Box 72
Gillingham Business Park
Bank Sort Code 30-00-02
Bank Account Number 00456492
Bank Account Name South West Water Ltd
To avoid a delay in processing the payment please enter the Work Request number as a reference. This allows your payment to be identified.
You will also need to send in remittance advice to our Sales Ledger Team zzSalesLedger@southwestwater.co.uk
Remittance advice information
Your advice should contact the following information:
• Your name & address (company or individual of the bank account where the payment is coming from)
• Your contact telephone number
• Your reference number (i.e. your internal reference number, a supplier number from South West Water or a job number applicable to the work)
• Date of remittance
• Date payment made
• Date payment expected in South West Water’s bank account
• Our reference – Work Request Number
• Payment amount
Payment will clear and show on South West Water’s system within 4-5 working days and you will be issued with an invoice upon receipt of your remittance advice.
If you would prefer to pay by cheque please make it payable to South West Water, write your Work Request Number on the back and send to:
South West Water
PO Box 4762
You will need to allow 10 working days for the payment to clear.
Step 4 – You’ll request an inspection
We’ll need to inspect the connection to our sewer before you backfill the trench. Please call us 0800 083 1821 to schedule an inspection visit. We require at least 5 working days' notice before you intend to carry out the work. Inspections are normally undertaken during working hours Monday to Friday. Inspections outside of these times can be arranged by special arrangement. Please contact us using the options below:-
a) Contact us - 0800 0831821
b) Request a call back here
c) Email us at email@example.com
These inspections can either be undertaken through a virtual platform or by a physical inspection.
Please note that if you make a connection and backfill the trench before inspection, you will need to submit a CCTV survey report and footage. Should this prove that the works do not meet our specification, you will be required to rectify the issue in a timescale agreed.
If your works are not completed at the agreed time of inspection, or the site is inaccessible, we reserve the right to charge you for another inspection.
If any issues are identified, we'll indicate what works you must undertake to meet our requirements. You'll then have to schedule another inspection visit as above.
Step 5 – We will issue a completion certificate
We’ll issue a completion certificate upon approval of your sewer connection works. This confirms that your work has been completed to the required standard. This applies to direct connections and manhole relocations only.
Customer Flow Chart
Isles of Scilly
Isles of Scilly
From 1 April 2020 South West Water became the appointed water and wastewater company for the Isles of Scilly. This means that South West Water took responsibility for existing water and wastewater infrastructure on the islands.
Investing in our region
We believe it is right to support the necessary improvements in water and wastewater services on the islands so that services are in line with standards on mainland UK by 2025 or 2030 in the case of Tresco. This includes the ability to provide new water and sewer connections to the network.
Our wastewater investment will be focused on achieving a reliable wastewater service including being able to cope with extreme conditions, protecting the environment and providing long term benefits to the community.
The balanced investment for each island for water asset improvements will focus on achieving a clean, safe and reliable supply of drinking water.
South West Water appreciate that the island economy is heavily dependent on tourism with over 90% of the islands' income coming from this source. Therefore, our proposed programme of investment will be designed to support and enhance the economy of the islands by improving services and the environment. Once finalised, we will actively communicate with local communities to ensure we work together to deliver improvements in the best way for the communities we serve. Once the asset improvements are delivered to your community we will happily help with applications for new or replacement supplies.
Should you wish to discuss your enquiry further please contact our Developer Services Help Desk on 0800 083 1821.