Drains v Sewers

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‘Drains and ‘sewers’ are terms used interchangeably in the industry; however, by definition, they are very different. Simply put, a drain is privately owned and a sewer is owned by the State.

Since 2014, Irish Water is now responsible for wastewater (i.e. foul water), although surface water remains the responsibility of the local authorities. Up to 2018, for estates taken in charge, a private drain remained private up to the public sewer, regardless of where the drain was located.  Therefore, the responsibility for that drain rested with the homeowner. If the drain was served by more than one premises, responsibility was shared on a pro rata basis. In the UK, assessing responsibility is much more complex.

So if a homeowner wanted to replace this drain due to simple wear and tear, they would have to employ a civil engineering contractor to obtain a road opening licence from the local authority and complete the works.

However, since the amendment to the Water Services Act (2007-2017), for estates taken in charge, a drain becomes a sewer as it enters public property and is no longer the responsibility of the homeowner. But if that drain enters another private property, responsibility remains with the homeowner and not the neighbour!!! Access to that property to maintain your drain is provided under the Land And Conveyancing Law Reform Act 2009. But if in the event of an estate house which is not yet taken in charge, responsibility will remain with the householder.

Therefore, Irish Water is now responsible for the pipework from the boundary of the property .

Great news for homeowners – bad news for the taxpayer!!!!