Surface Water rebate with Thames Water - back claiming, is it possible?

Thames Water charges every house for Surface Water Drainage i.e. rain water. I recently discovered my next door neighbour had claimed a reduction since 2007 because our rain water goes into a soak-away. I applied and Thames Water replied “we took your word that the rainwater from your home does not drain in to our sewer”. They probably already knew!!

Our housing estate was built in 1991 and was connected to the mains by Thames Water. A modern estate is unlikely to have needed Surface Water Drainage. Thames Water say the onus is on the consumer to apply for a rebate – as if we would know.

I wanted a rebate from when we moved in not when the house was built. I quoted the Ofwat website but Thames Water say the onus is on the consumer to apply for a rebate – as if we would know.

How can Thames Water charge for something they know they cannot supply?!


  • CardewCardew Forumite
    29K Posts
    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Rampant Recycler
    Unfortunately the Water Privatisation Act laid down that the 'default position' would be that companies must charge for Surface Water Drainage(SWD) and customers claim relief. This was and is mandatory.

    This position was upheld by OFWAT and if you search MSE for SWD you will find hundreds of posts on this subject.

    Until recently OFWAT's position was that they would only backdate the refund to the preceding April. However they now have altered their stance and state that if the water company could 'reasonably' have known that a property's surface water did not enter the sewerage system, then they will backdate for 6 years in line with UK law on statute limits. In the same way that if you were claiming relief for SWD to which you were not entitled(e.g. you had built an extension with gutters draining into sewer) - they could only claim back 6 years.

    As you will read if you search SWD, charging for SWD - or not - makes no difference to the income and profit of the water companies. Their income and hence profit is controlled by the Regulator. So if they have to rebate customers, say, £1million for SWD then they are allowed to increase their other charges by £1million to compensate.

    The valid argument by Ofwat against backdating SWD refunds to more than the beginning of the financial year, was that the subsequent increase in other charges would be paid for by all other users. Many of these users were not paying water charges several years ago because they had no property and were, say, living with parents. Thus it would be unfair that they should be paying for charges levied because of refunds before they were householders.
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