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Help & Advice
Common questions about 'sewer flooding'

Sewer flooding

image depicting Sewer flooding
Sewer flooding
We're aware of the distress that sewer flooding can cause and we work hard to prevent flooding from our sewers.

What causes sewer flooding?

There are lots of possible causes of flooding in your home, the most common are:

When we have exceptional weather with intense or long periods of rainfall, the sewers can become overwhelmed and aren't able to carry the additional water away quickly enough.

Blocked pipes
Pipes can block with fatty build ups, root growth and non-flushable objects like wet wipes.

Who is responsible?

The table below shows who is responsible and contact details for each type of flooding:

HighwaysSurface water on roads, highways and pavements
Blocked road drains / gullies and overgrown verges
Local Council Highways Department
GroundwaterWaterlogged ground when water pools on the surfaceLocal Council  or Landowner
Rivers and watercoursesWater draining into rivers and streams from nearby landEnvironment Agency or Landowner
Coastal / TidalRough seas, high tides or storm overflows on lower landEnvironment Agency
Public sewersManholes and coversUs
Private sewersCesspits/ septic tanks, toilets or internal drainsHomeowner

Local authority map

If you are experiencing flooding which you believe has occurred from the highway, you can use the map to contact your local authority about the flooding.

Contact DetailsHighways road drain/gully

Devon County Council Highways  - 0345 155 1004

Cornwall County Council Highways - 0300 1234 222

Dorset County Council Highways - 01305 221020

Environment Agency - 0800 80 70 60

highways drain

Our responsibility

We're responsible for clearing any blockages from the pipes highlighted in brown below. The pipes marked in blue are the responsibility of the homeowner.

Sewer flooding responsibilities

How we can help

If you experience flooding from a public sewer or think that it is blocked, please call us so that we can investigate. We'll clear any blockages and clean up any sewage debris outside your property.

If you have flooding inside your home, we can investigate and put you in touch with experts that can help with the clean up and talk with insurers.

Other Assistance

There are a number of schemes, charities and community groups which can assist with support, guidance and funding to help prevent, prepare for and recover from flooding.

Flood Re is a joint Government and insurance industry initiative to help you find affordable home insurance if you are at risk of flooding or have been flooded.

The National Flood Forum offers a dedicated helpline and online resource for all flood related enquiries and work with Government agencies and local authorities to represent communities.

Devon Community Resilience Forum and Cornwall Community Flood Forum are local groups who can help communities to plan for and recover from flooding.

Related WebsitesSouth West Water Resources
British WaterOrder Fat Traps
Chartered Institute of Environmental Healthwww.beachlive.co.uk
Coastpdficon.gif icon What to do if your property is flooded by sewage (294kb)
Consumer Council for Waterpdficon.gif icon Building Regulations 2000 (2.1Mb)
Environment Agency
Food Standards Agency
Marine Conservation Society
The Met Office
Water UK

Love Your Loo
Consumer research conducted by South West Water during 2014 showed that 77% of research respondents stated that they only flush pee, paper and poo, with only 23% admitting to flushing other items. What do you flush?
Think Sink!
Every year, tens of thousands of litres of waste fat, cooking oil and grease are poured down sinks by people who don't realise the problems this could cause.
Investigations by the Environment Agency and South West Water have identified that one of the sources of faecal pollution to some of the bathing waters in the South West is misconnections.

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