How Private Sewers Are Adopted Into Public Systems


While most homes and buildings connect to public water and sewage systems, there are businesses and developments with private systems for which they are responsible. However, they may not know that their water and sewage systems are private until something goes wrong and they are faced with paying for the repairs. However, sewers can be adopted by utility companies and made part of the public system through an adoption process.

Private Sewage Systems

Usually, private sewage systems only serve single buildings within a property’s boundaries, the sewage system is maintained privately because it is part of a property management scheme, or it does not connect to a public system. Usually, a surface water system may flow into a culvert, soakaway, or a water course.

Sewer Adoption

If you have a private sewage system but want it to be adopted by a public water and sewer utility company, then adoption papers can be filed asking a company to make the private system a part of the public one. The law requires the utility to consider the state of repair of the sewer and to consider the method of construction to connect it to the public system before adoption.

If the public utility does adopt a private sewer system or a pumping station from a commercial business, then a connection will need to be built between the private and public sewage system. If the public utility decides to commence with an adoption, they will then be responsible for all repairs and maintenance once it is done.

The first step in the sewer adoption process is for the owner or developer to have a structural survey of the system. When the utility inspects the system, they will note what repairs need to be made. Then you as the owner will need to hire a company to have those repairs done.

The utility will inspect it again and then if they decide that it is suitable, they will give a notice to property owners and others with a vested interest in the project of the adoption of sewers. If there are no objections two months after the notice has been given, then the utility adopts the system and takes responsibility for it.

Reviewed Details

When a public utility company gets an application for a sewer system to be adopted, they will look at CCTV and manhole inspection reports. Some of the details they will review include:

  • Pipe diameters, which must be at least 100mm
  • Proximity of buildings to sewer
  • Whether the route has public access
  • Whether the sewer will be used for future development
  • The type of pipe as pitch fibre pipes are not acceptable
  • The current owners of the system
  • Whether all owners agree to adoption
  • Whether the request is being made to pass ongoing problems onto the public utility

Although most adoption requests are usually granted, they may be declined if the request is being made because the owners no longer wish to be responsible for ongoing issues. If it is denied, then the owners can appeal the decision.

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