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Soil stack drainage pipes

Most homes have separate drains for rainwater and wastewater. The owner is responsible for checking their property has the right drain connections. If your property has the wrong drain connections, you could be causing water pollution.

Drain for rainwater

This drain collects rainwater from:

  • roofs
  • driveways
  • roads

Rainwater is untreated. It's also described as 'storm water'. The surface water drain takes it directly to rivers and beaches. 

Drain for wastewater

Wastewater comes from:

  • toilets
  • sinks
  • baths and showers
  • washing machines
  • dishwashers

This drain takes the foul water to the local wastewater treatment works.

Drain connections

Wastewater must not flow into the surface water drain.  Unless your house is on  a combined drains system, it needs separate drain connections to collect wastewater and rainwater. Homeowners and landlords are responsible for checking they have separate drain connections from their home.

Combined drains

If your property was built before 1970, you might have a combined drains system. This is a single pipe collecting your wastewater and rainwater runoff. You don't need to replace the single pipe with separate drains.

Separate drains

Most properties built since 1970 have separate drains for rainwater and wastewater.

How your home could cause pollution

If wastewater from your home flows into the rainwater drain, this takes untreated water to the nearest river.  This pollutes:

  • river water
  • the sea
  • local beaches

Your house could have the wrong drain connections because:

  • you or a plumber installed a new appliance
  • you renovated or extended your home

When your home was originally built, it's possible the builder or owner might have installed connections to the wrong drains. 

Connecting gutters and gullies

Gutters and gullies should only collect rainwater and connect to the rainwater drain. Wastewater pipes should not be connected to the rainwater system. If the rainwater gutters and gullies are connected to the wastewater drain, rainwater could overwhelm the drain and cause flooding.

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23 November 2020
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