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Misconnected pipes

When toilets, washing machines, dishwashers and other goods are incorrectly plumbed into a surface water drain, they're 'misconnected'.

Misconnected pipes allow nasty wastewater and chemicals to drain away into rivers and streams, damaging the environment and harming wildlife. All household goods should be plumbed into the wastewater sewer, so the water can be taken away and treated.

Our Environmental Protection team try to prevent pollution to our rivers and waterways by surveying residential areas. We may also carry out dye-tracing. This involves putting a teaspoon of colourful dye down sinks, toilets, appliances and drainage gullies. The bright dye shows where wastewater is flowing and helps us check your home is properly connected. 

How do I know if I have misconnected pipes?

Check for any pipes coming from the house and joining the rainwater downpipes from your roof. If you find one, look at where it’s coming from and check which drain it’s going to. It’s likely that it’ll be misconnected.

If you have a wastewater manhole, there may be a surface water pipe running in parallel. Check whether this pipe is open. If it is, your overflowing wastewater pipe could enter the surface water drain, running into streams and watercourses.

ConnectRight is an online tool that will also help you identify misconnected pipes.

Are misconnected pipes illegal?

Yes, they are. Under Section 109 Water Industry Act 1991, it’s unlawful to discharge foul water into a sewer provided for surface water where separate public sewers are provide for foul water and surface water.

What's the difference between a wastewater sewer and a surface water sewer? 

Your wastewater sewer collects wastewater from toilets, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers. It then takes it to your local sewage works to be treated.

A surface water drain collects rainwater that runs off roads and roofs. It then diverts it to a local river or stream to prevent your home from flooding. This also boosts water levels for the environment.

Who’s responsible for misconnected pipes? 

The property owner is responsible for misconnected pipes in the property and up to where the pipework meets the public sewer in the street. If you rent the property, please contact your landlord.

What should I do if my pipes are misconnected?

You should contact a plumber who will be able to advise of the best way to fix it. If you need guidance, you can contact us and we’ll suggest ways that your plumber may be able to fix it.