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Private sewers - developers

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Important changes to sewer adoptions for developers

Under Section 104 of the Water Industry Act 1991, a developer may enter a voluntary agreement with a sewerage undertaker for the adoption of sewers serving a development.

What will happen to existing S104 agreements:

  1. Where a Section 104 agreement is in place in respect to sewers which were connected to the public sewerage system on 1 July 2011, the sewers transferred automatically on 1 October 2011 and the agreement therefore has no ongoing purpose. It will cease to have effect in so far as it relates to sewers and lateral drains that are the subject of the transfer regulations.
  2. Where such an agreement also covers assets that were not eligible for transfer, for instance surface water sewers draining direct to a watercourse, the agreement continues in force in respect of those assets, including any provisions for a bond or surety in respect of the works covered by the provisions of the agreement that are yet to be concluded.
  3. Existing Section 104 agreements in respect of sewerage which had not been constructed or connected to the public system by 1 July 2011 will remain valid until construction work is completed.

What happens next?

The water industry is updating its guidelines for developers, called the Sewers for Adoption 6 (SFA 6), principally around the introduction of design standards for lateral drains and pumping stations. In the short term an addendum to SFA 6 is now available detailing some of the changes that will be incorporated in to Sewers for Adoption 7 (SFA 7). (Copies are available from the Water Research Centre bookshop).

When implemented, Section 42 of the Floods and Water Management Act 2010 Regulations will require that new sewers and lateral drains which connect to a public sewer must be adopted by the UK's sewerage companies. These cover new sewers and lateral drains, and are in addition to the Regulations being introduced to cover existing sewers and lateral drains.

Under the new legislation, developers will also have to obtain a Section 104 agreement, in advance of obtaining a Section 106 agreement.

This agreement is being updated, and, as well as dealing with layout, location and design standards, will include in particular the requirement for the sewerage company to adopt all sewers and lateral drains on satisfactory completion.

A specific condition of a Section 104 agreement is that the new sewer development meets a Mandatory Build Standard (MBS), which sets out the required standards in the design and construction of new sewers and lateral drains.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) is drafting the new MBS, and the department has indicated that this will be consulted on in due course.

A date for the introduction of the new legislation above has yet to be set, but is likely to be April 2012.

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