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Defective drainage

The local authority has a duty to investigate allegations of defective drainage from any premises. This is predominately enforced under the Building Act 1984.

Due to the physical nature of districts covered by the Public Protection Partnership (PPP) these mainly relate to an individual property's foul water treatment works such as a septic tank or cesspit, where either nuisance or a public health concern is being created by a defective system surcharging.

In these instances we recommend that those being affected make the responsible person(s) aware of the impact of the defective system is be having on them so that the situation can be resolved informally. Where this method has taken place and there has been no improvement the PPP may be able to investigate and take enforcement action to rectify the situation. This normally takes the form of serving an Enforcement Notice on the person(s) responsible for the maintenance and installation of a treatment system and requires that the system be repaired/replaced within a reasonable timescale.

All treatment systems should be installed by a competent engineer and meet the current Building Regulations. If you are concerned or need advice on Building Regulations please contact your local Building Control Department to discuss.

Where there is a concern that a shared pipe is blocked or there is waste coming out of a manhole, you should report this directly to your water utility company. In most cases within the PPP area this is Thames Water.


  • If the problem appears to be affecting controlled waters, for example, effluent from a septic tank is discharging directly into a stream, then the Environment Agency must be notified immediately.
  • If the problem appears to be affecting a private sewer, the owner of the sewer must remedy the defect on their sewer, failure to do repair can be reported to PPP. And if is a shared sewer, all properties sharing the sewer to share repair costs.
  • If the problem appears to be affecting a public sewer/ public lateral drain, the residents must notify the local Water Utility Company (for example Thames Water).
  • If Individual council tenants their first point of contact should be the local authority housing department.
  • If individuals are renting from social registered landlords (i.e housing associations), their first point of contact should be with their housing provider.   Privately renting tenants should also contact their landlord.
  • If the problem appears to be surface water, residents to contact Highways and Drainage team.


If you are having continued or repeat issues with a system that is not your responsibility to maintain and you have already tried to resolve this with your neighbour/owners, please contact us for more advice and assistance.


Useful links

Blockages and blocked drains / Emergencies / Help 

What Complaints and disputes OFWAT can help with

Making a complaint 

Who is responsible for repairing drains and sewers

Flooding_Keeping_safe_and_well.pdf (westberks.gov.uk)

Keeping Safe and Well When Cleaning Your Home After Flooding - West Berkshire Council

Flooding, Be prepared! (westberks.gov.uk)

Flooding and health: advice for the public - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)




Bracknell Forest
West Berkshire