Adopting sewers and other assets

Adopting sewers, pumping stations and sewage treatment works

If you own or are planning to build a sewer, pumping station or sewage treatment works, you may not have the legal powers, financial resources or expertise to maintain it properly. If we adopt your sewer, pumping station or treatment works into our public network, we become solely responsible for its upkeep and service. Here’s how to apply for adoption.

Adopting a new sewer or pumping station under Section 104

If you’re constructing sewers or pumping stations as part of a new development, you can ask us to adopt the new network under Section 104 of the Water Industry Act 1991.

You’ll be responsible for all construction and maintenance costs until we adopt the sewer or pumping station.

Please follow the national guidelines, levels of service and construction standards in Ofwat’s Code for Adoption.

The new Code for Adoption recommends that you don’t start constructing any new assets you’d like us to adopt until all parties have signed the legal Section 104 agreement.

If you need help understanding our process and technical requirements, please check out our step-by-step guides:

Your guide to the sewer adoption process

Your guide to the pumping station adoption process

New sewer construction guide

Adopting an existing sewer or pumping station under Section 102

If you own an existing private sewer or pumping station that’s been operating for at least 12 months, you can ask us to adopt it under Section 102 of the Water Industry Act 1991.

We’ll need to make sure the design, layout and construction quality comply with Ofwat’s Code for Adoptions as well as our own special requirements.

After inspecting your site, we’ll let you know if you need to carry out any remedial works to bring the private sewers up to an adoptable standard. You’ll have to fund these works yourself.

We’ll also need to give two months’ notice to all parties who use or have an interest in the existing assets.

To apply download our form:

For details on how we’ll use the information you provide in your application, click here.

Adopting sewage treatment works

All sewage treatment works must our follow strict design, environmental and legal requirements as well as those set by the Environment Agency. This can make the adoption of sewage treatment works a long and costly process. We recommend you visit us to chat through your plans before you apply.

Closing a public sewer

Under Section 116 of the Water Industry Act 1991, we’re able to restrict the use or close (abandon) existing public sewers at our discretion. If you’re planning a brownfield development site, you can ask us to do this to avoid costly and unnecessary diversions or build-overs, assuming that nobody else is being serviced by that sewer.

To apply download our form:

As per Ofwat’s Code for Adoptions, we need to understand your plans before we can confirm acceptance of your proposals, which means you’ll need to have technical drawings, designs and more to hand. Download our requirements now.

You’ll need to carry out all work in line with the Code for Adoption’s Appendix 4, known as the design and construction guidance standards.

While these are consistent with other water companies’ standards, please don’t forget to pay attention to our local practices, including those around pumping stations and easements.

Legal local practices

Pumping station local practices


If you want to get started on your development but don’t have a full technical review or signed section 104 agreement yet, you’ll need to formally request an early start.

To do this, please:

  • Complete our inspection request form
  • Supply a full set of plans
  • Pay your inspection fees in advance
  • Ask the developer to confirm in writing that they understand:

- the early start will be at their own risk

- they could incur extra costs if the design needs to change later down the line

- if you’ve already laid and backfilled some of your sewers before requesting an early start, you may need to excavate and expose these so that we can check they meet the agreed specifications and standards

Please note - You can’t apply for an early start for any diversionary work.

It’s easy to request an inspection.

Download an inspection form

We’ll stop by your site to inspect the work you’re doing at the following times:

Before you start work: We’ll meet with the developer and groundworker to discuss the proposed assets, local practices, special design items, programme of works and the adoption process.

Before maintenance starts: We’ll inspect manholes, observe some pipe laying and construction and check any other visible structures to make sure they’re structurally sound and built in accordance with the approved design.

Before you finish work: We’ll complete a final inspection to sign off the works ready for future vesting.

Please submit all the information included on the form to avoid any delay in booking your inspection.

We aim to deliver the key performance measures set out in Ofwat’s Code for Adoptions. Find out more about our performance measures and what we’ll do if we fail to meet these targets.