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Drains and sewers FAQs

Who should I contact in the first instance?

What is a drain?

Who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked drain?

What is a sewer?

Who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked sewer?

Where can I get drainage maps?

How do I prevent blockages occurring?

How do I report sewage on the beach?

Neighbours are abusing the drains, what should we do?


Who should I contact in the first instance?

If it is just affecting your property, please refer to 'who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked drain?'

If the problem is affecting two or more properties, please refer to 'who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked sewer?'

If you are in a block of flats or industrial park, the responsibility could lie with the management company/landlord (if the blockage / defect is within the boundary of the flats) or Wessex Water if it is outside the boundary.

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What is a drain?

A drain is a pipe taking waste water (from sink, bath, toilet etc.) or surface water (rain) from a single property to the boundary or to join a sewer. Once the drain reaches the boundary it becomes a lateral drain until it joins a sewer.

Who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked drain? 

Homeowners are responsible for the length of drain that takes waste water away from their property up to its boundary or to where it becomes a sewer.

Private householders should contact a drain clearance company. You can search for a Trading Standards approved company on www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk. It is worth checking your household insurance to see if you have cover for unblocking or repairing drains.

Wessex Water are responsible for lateral drains outside the boundary of a property. They can be contacted via their website.

Private flat: check your lease to see who is responsible. If you are responsible, then you will need to contact a private drain clearance company. If the management company or landlord is responsible, you will need to report it to them.

Private tenants (including Housing Association tenants): please contact your landlord or management agent or company. If they fail to act promptly to unblock or repair the drain, then you should contact our Environmental Health Team on 01202 261700.

Poole Housing Partnership tenants: contact PHP to report the problem to them.

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What is a sewer?

A sewer is a pipe taking waste water or surface water from two or more properties.

Who is responsible for clearing or repairing a blocked sewer?

Wessex Water are responsible for the majority of blocked sewers and should be contacted in the first instance. They can be contacted via their website

If the problem is affecting a block of flats or an industrial park the responsibility may be with the management company.

If there is a pumping station within the sewer it may be that this is not transferred on the 1st October 2011. Please check Wessex Water webpage for further information.

You should only report sewer problems to the council once you have contacted Wessex Water and they have advised they are not responsible for the sewer.

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How can I prevent blockages occurring?

  • don't put fat or oil into your drainage system. Leave them to cool then place in a suitable container and put them in the bin. Mop up fats and oils from your cooking utensils with kitchen paper towel and throw it in the bin
  • never flush nappies, wipes, incontinence pads, sanitary towels, cotton buds or condoms down the toilet. Put them in the bin
  • never allow rubble, or other objects to fall into the drain or inspection chamber
  • leave manhole covers clear of heavy pots or paving slabs to enable easy access
  • contrary to popular belief, tree roots rarely break drains in their search for water, preferring to exploit old or already damaged pipes

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Where can I get drainage maps?

Private drainage maps: the Borough of Poole does not hold copies of these maps for properties built before 1995. It may be possible to obtain information from your mortgage provider, developer or builder.

Public sewer maps are the responsibility of Wessex Water. These maps can be viewed at the Borough of Poole Building Consultancy offices. However they are the copyright of Wessex Water and therefore cannot be photocopied.

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Who is responsible for repairing or replacing manhole covers?

The owner of the drain, sewer or other service is responsible. If the manhole is in the road and poses a danger to public safety, please contact us by phoning 01202 265255, or the out of hours emergency phone number: 0800 506 050

How do I report sewage on the beach?

Sewage on the beach can be a public health issue so phone us on 01202 261700 (or 0800 506 050 if it is out of hours) to inform our Environmental Health team.

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Neighbours are abusing the drains, what should we do?

If you see someone emptying fat or oil down a drain, please contact Wessex Water.

If you think the fat or oil is being put down a road gulley and could pollute a watercourse, please contact the Environment Agency emergency line on 0800 807 060 or via their website.

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