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Defra plans to hand sewers back to water companies

Defra has launched a consultation, to take comment from people on its proposals to hand the running of household drainage to the water companies.
According to Defra, 50% of houselholds connect to private sewers, and the majority of the remainder of households connect to publicly owned sewers via a lateral drains. These are all the responsibility of the owners of the properties.Defra proposes to hand this responsibility over to the water companies.According to Environment Minister Phil Woolas, 'The current system places an unfair burden on those householders who are served by private sewers and lateral drains. They pay the same sewerage bills as those served only by public sewers but on top of that have to foot the bill for maintenance when things go wrong.'We have already committed to putting an end to this discrepancy. The proposals published today consider how this should happen. There are significant environmental gains to be made, as well as offering peace of mind to householders they serve, often without their knowledge. When they need repair the costs can be significant,' he said.The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) urged the government to be cautious.Dame Yve Buckland, Chair of CCW said, 'Although the change of ownership will benefit many households, consumers are entitled to know exactly how much this will cost on their annual sewerage bill, as inevitably the cost of the transfer will be passed onto the consumer,' she said.

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