There are still other issues for the Government to resolve in respect of New Build, Building Regulations and SUDS before the transfer can take place.
The NSA initial response to the Consultation is given below and we hope to attend the workshops arranged for the end of October to express our concerns and put forward ideas for managing the transfer to the benefit of the small contractor.
To: Private Sewers Transfer Implementation Team
27th September 2010
Response to consultation on Draft Regulations and Proposals for schemes for the Transfer of Private and Lateral Drains to Water and Sewerage Companies in England and Wale.
On Behalf of the National Sewerage Association we offer the following responses to the questions set out in the consultation document.
Chapter 4 - What will transfer?
Question 1: Can you suggest an efficient and simple way to identify sites which may be in multiple occupation but comprise a single curtilage?
It has in the past been extremely difficult if not impossible to categorically define a single curtilage when trying to categorise a drainage pipe as being a sewer or drain.
The legal arms of various organisations have frequently failed to agree on this point and therefore a house/ business owner or drainage contractor has very little chance of accurately assessing this point and therefore the new definition must both avoid ambiguity and be a simple short definition.
A single definition based on individual occupancy would, we believe, offer more clarity. Allowing for the exit pipe from a block of flats or blocks of warehouses/ industrial units to be classed as a sewer rather than trying to clarify whether they were owned by a single or dual entity.
Chapter 8 – Next steps and regulatory issues
Question 4: Are there any transitional arrangements not covered in this document you would expect to see and why?
Following the overnight transfer, both homeowners and commercial/ industrial unit owners may be unsure whether or not the pipes immediately in the vicinity are their responsibility. They are also unlikely to know where the problem is on the system.
Yes, a total blockage collapse may show signs of flooding which may give an apparent location but a lot of drainage problems are not so easily identified. There are likely to be many instances in the first months and possibly years of the change when private contractors are called out in good faith to resolve what the customer believes is their problem.
It would be in the interest of customers, water companies and drainage contractors if a protocol could be entered into by the water companies, which would allow private drainage companies who were called to the site to remedy or initially investigate the problem to be paid a set fee by the water company for that work.
This would allow problems to be resolved quickly or at least identified and ensure that customers felt valued in that they were not passed on to the water company without some sought of speedy resolution.
Water Companies may want to have a system of handover but a legislative input would enforce this process and allow a contractor to be paid for his turn out, the customer to see some action without the ping pong effect. The water company would thereby get the credit and avoid unnecessary delays for the speedy resolution of simple problems.
Question 5: How would you expect to see them covered in the proposed Regulations?
A simple requirement for water companies to enter into interim arrangements/ protocol that would require them to pay private drainage contractors for work on an agreed scale for investigatory work and/or blockage clearance.
It could be that the contractors pre-register with the water companies to show their appropriate working competencies.