Blocked drains, sewers or gullies

Who looks after drains and sewers?

Drains on private land that only serve that property are the responsibility of the property owner. 

A drain which serves only your property but is located on someone else's land is the responsibility of the sewerage undertaker.

Public sewers are managed by the sewerage undertaker, eg Southern Water. This includes public sewers and lateral drains (drainage pipes that connect a property to the main sewer but are located outside the boundary of that property).

Privately-owned septic tanks and cesspits are the responsibility of the property owner.

Maintaining private drains

If your drain is blocked you may notice water draining away slowly, gullies outside overflowing or an unpleasant smell.

Drains can become blocked for a number of reasons, but you can help prevent blockages by being careful about what goes down your drain:

  • Avoid flushing items such as nappies, wet wipes and cotton buds down the toilet
  • Cooking oils or fats which are poured down the sink will solidify in the pipes - put cooled fats and oils in a container and then put it in your bin
  • Use strainers in the sink to collect food waste particles

For more advice on maintaining your drains and preventing blockages please see:

What to do if you have a blocked drain

If your private drain is blocked, you will need to contact a private drainage company to resolve the issue.

If you experience a sewer blockage, or if you think other properties are affected, you should see:

Council or housing association tenants

If you are a council or housing association tenant you can find out how to report a problem by contacting:

Misconnected drains

Misconnected drains can pollute local streams, rivers and beaches, damage wildlife and put our health at risk. The 'Connect Right' campaign aims to reduce such pollution by raising awareness and understanding about such misconnections and help property owners and professionals check drainage connections and take action.

For information and advice please see:

Reporting a blocked rain gully

Gullies on roads and footpaths can sometimes become blocked by leaves or litter. This can cause surface flooding.

If you spot a problem please report it to West Sussex County Council, who are responsible for adopted roads and pathways in Adur and Worthing, except the A27 which is looked after by Highways England.

See also: Advice in case of flooding

Reporting a drainage issue relating to a food business

If a drain serving a food premises is blocked please report it to the Public Health & Regulation team.

If other properties are affected you should:

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Page last updated: 20 June 2023

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