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Drains and public sewers

How to look after your drains and report problems with them.

What are drains?

A drain takes waste from a toilet, bath, or sink at an individual property. A drain is also something that takes surface water from roofs/paths.

Road gullies (road drains/gullies)

Derbyshire County Council Highways Department have responsibility for cleaning out highway 'road gullies'.

You can contact Derbyshire County Council Highways tel: 01629 533190 or email

Alternatively you can report it online via their website.

What are public sewers?

When one drain meets another from two or more properties, it becomes a sewer. 

We are not responsible for the maintenance of sewers. The regional water providers, United Utilities and Severn Trent Water are responsible for clearing blockages and repairing defects in any sewers.

Problems with public sewers, main sewers and relevant private sewers should be reported directly to the company you pay your water bills to:

United Utilities 0345 672 3723
Severn Trent 0800 783 4444

Maintaining a private drain is the responsibility of the owner of the property.  If you are a tenant, the responsibility usually lies with the landlord but you should check your tenancy agreement. Defects in private drainage systems may be covered by household insurance.

Our responsibilities

We can advise on problems with blocked private drains and septic tanks, and take steps to ensure that all relevant parties are informed of their responsibilities. We do not offer a drain clearing service

If we believe that a blocked private drain or sewer is a public health risk and falls outside the responsibility of the utility companies, enforcement notices can be served on the property owners. 

If the work is not done, we can take action to resolve the problem once the enforcement notice expires. We can then recharge the costs to the owners or occupiers.

Keeping drains and sewers healthy

Many things are flushed down the toilet or poured down the drain which can upset the treatment process, or cause the sewer system to block, causing wastewater to overflow or flood into your home.

  • don't flush disposable razors, cotton buds, nappies or personal items like condoms or sanitary towels, down the toilet.
  • don't push kitchen waste down the sink - put it in the bin, or collect vegetable peelings and tea bags for the compost heap.
  • don't pour waste cooking oils and hot fats down the sink - let the oil cool and put it in the bin, or collect it in a container and mix with nuts and breadcrumbs to make a tasty treat for garden birds.
  • don't pour used engine oil down the drain - collect it in a container and take it to your local recycling centre.

You could be fined up to £5,000 for disposing of certain things down the drain.