Sewers and drainage

Changes to the private sewer legislation

On 1 October 2011 government legislation transferred the responsibility for the repair and maintenance of many private sewers to the water companies. The water company currently operating within Salford is United Utilities.

What constitutes a drain? What constitutes a sewer?

Drains and sewers often become blocked and there is often confusion over the responsibility. Initially it has to be determined whether the problem is in a sewer or a drain.


  • a drain is the pipe which carries sewage from one property
  • a sewer is the pipe which carries sewage from more than one property

Thus, when two drains join, the pipe becomes a public sewer.

Defective drains are the responsibility of the owner/occupiers of the property that the drain serves, that is until the drain pipe crosses over the property boundary, when it then becomes a public sewer.

United Utilities have responsibility for the repair and maintenance of all public sewers in Salford. If you are unsure of where the responsibility for the maintenance of the drainage system that serves your property lies, then please see the United Utilities sewers and drains explained page.

When and why does the city council become involved?

In the interests of maintaining public health, the city council has powers to insist that blockages are removed and repairs are made to a drain or a private drainage system.  

This can include the serving of legal notices and carrying out work by default, if the work identified in the notice is not carried out.

The cost of any work carried out by default (plus appropriate administration charges) will be recovered from the relevant frontage properties/households served by the drain or private drainage system.

Drainage records

Drainage records are held by United Utilities and cannot be reproduced without their permission. For more details, call United Utilities on 03456 723723.

If you wish to report a blocked drain that is not on private property, or any surface water flooding on the road or pavement, visit our online reporting system.

This page was last updated on 15 June 2021

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