WATER AND sewerage firms may be asked to take responsibility for over 100,000km of private sewers as a result of a new government backed probe, it emerged this week.
The warning comes from consultant WS Atkins that was last week appointed by the government to investigate how poorly maintained privately owned sewers can be improved.
The findings will form a Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs consultation document that is likely to recommend a change in private sewer legislation.
WS Atkins investigation project manager Tim Kelly said this week that the 18 month study - that will include nationwide desk top studies and field investigations - could result in the recommendation that water and sewerage companies take responsibility for the sewers.
Privately owned sewers - 40% of the UK's sewer network length of 301,000km - range from pipes to septic tanks to whole estate networks.
The study is expected to show that because private owners do not know how to maintain the systems, repair bills are costlier and potential for environmental damage greater.
Portsmouth University's John Reynolds said that he expected the study to show the UK's private sewers to be in poor condition because many were built with poor materials and without construction supervision.