The supply of drinking water and the removal and treatment of waste water is the responsibility of ten, privately owned water companies in England and Wales. Waste water is usually referred to as “sewage”; it includes surface water resulting from rainfall. In most instances, surface water arising from domestic properties is collected and discharged into the public sewage system provided by the water company. However, in some instances, property developers find it more convenient and advantageous to discharge surface water into soak-aways or into nearby water courses such as rivers and canals. In the latter case, such discharges must be covered by a Licence Agreement with the body responsible for the management of the water course in question.
Water companies make charges for both the supply of water and for the removal and treatment of sewage. For domestic properties, the level of charge depends on whether or not the property has a metered supply; its rateable value; and its geographic location within the company’s supply area. For metered supplies the size of the meter is a driving factor. For commercial/industrial properties the “hard surface area” of the development is the driving factor.
The sewage charge comprises two components; one for waste water, the other for surface water. The sewage charge is levied in full where surface water from the property is discharged into the public sewer. However, if the surface water is kept separate and is discharged to a soak-away or water course, relief from paying the surface water component of the sewage charge may be obtained by application to the water company.
The Stroud Valleys Canal Company is willing to consider the discharge of clean, surface water from properties that are located close to the canals that it manages. All such discharges will be subject to agreed conditions that will be legally enforceable. The conditions will be set out in a Licence Agreement that will include appropriate charges for this service.
For any new property development, the relevant water company, in our area Severn Trent plc, will have to be satisfied with the arrangements for the disposal of surface water prior to “adopting” the overall water supply and sewage management system for the development. The existence of a Licence Agreement usually satisfies that requirement.
Further information on charges may be obtained on the Severn Trent plc web-site: www.stwater.co.uk and the “Summary of Charges 2018-19 – a householder’s guide to how we calculate your bill” document.