Reclaiming surface water drainage charges

Hi, anyone on here got any experience or advice with reclaiming surface water charges please?

After nearly 18 years living in our property, Severn Trent Water have this morning confirmed that none of our surface or ground water empties into the public sewer. Before anyone asks, we have queried with ST whether we should be paying for this on at least two previous occasions over the years and were told we were liable both times; it was only after some excavation work in the garden just over two years ago when we unearthed an underground water storage tank that we realised that most of our surface water ends up either there or in soakaways, not the sewer.

Having calculated that we've paid in the region of £1750 to Severn Trent over the years in unnecessary payments, we'd obviously like to get as much of this back as possible. Our understanding is that we may only be entitled to a refund of the current year's or half-year's payments, but no more. We haven't had a formal written response from Severn Trent as yet following this morning's home visit, although they are aware in principle that we are not liable to charges.

Does anyone know what we might be entitled to reclaim and how we might best go about this?

Many thanks.


  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
    There are a number of threads on this subject of back-claiming for SWD charges. I posted this about Severn Trent:
    It is worth mentioning that it was an ofwat edict that relief of SWD charges would only be backdated to the beginning of the financial year. However they have recently softened their stance and stated that if the water company should have known that the property should not be paying SWD charges then they can rebate for up to the last 6 years.

    Sometimes your company does know, or might reasonably be expected to have known, that your property was not connected to its sewerage system for surface water drainage. In this case we would expect it to apply the rebate (and refund any money overpaid) from the date at which it knew (or might reasonably be expected to have known) the property was not connected.

    However they don't define how the water companies 'should have known'. I recently advised a friend how to get relief from SWD. She had lived, as a first owner of a new house on an new estate for 18 years. However despite admitting that other houses on the estate had had claimed relief from SWD for years, they refused to backdate her relief for over a year. Despite going to the Consumer Council for Water they would not budge from their position that they were not aware that her property had a soakaway.

    So you have a battle to fight to get 6 year's rebate. Good Luck
  • Ok, many thanks. Looks like we may be in for a bit of a battle....!!
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
    Name Dropper First Anniversary First Post Rampant Recycler
    FlyingWolf wrote: »
    Ok, many thanks. Looks like we may be in for a bit of a battle....!!

    Let us know how you got on please.
  • Heard this morning from Severn Trent that they're refunding payments from 2005 onwards which they claim is the earliest they have on record of us contacting them about soakaways. We know we've spoken to them about this before then, but to be honest we're going to accept this and ST will be refunding us with £850 in the next few days. To be fair to ST, they've been absolutely first rate in the way they've handled this, from first receiving the claim, sending the engineers round and processing the refund. Yes, it does pay to be persistent, know you're rights, the details etc, but they've been on the front foot throughout. Very pleased with them.

    The message here is clear - if householders are in any doubt at all as to whether they should be paying for ground or surface water drainage, they need to start making enquiries. From the time when the water companies inherited responsibility for surface water drainage from the local authorities, they assume by default that householders pay for it. It's up to individuals to determine whether they should be and initiate claim procedures if not. Details of how to are on bills, and the water companies' and OFWAT websites.

    Many thanks for the advice.

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