Thames Water penalising waterbutts

I wonder if anyone else has encountered this oddity in Thames Water's (TW) policy regarding surface water drainage

I recently contacted TW about getting a discount on my waste water charge, since my roof water guttering all drains to a soakaway. I have architects plans from 1984 that show this to be the case, passed to me by the previous owner.

However the person dealing with it would not approve the rebate because one of the drainpipes is connected to a water butt. Apparently the water butt might overflow and thus at some point later on drain into their drains?

They are confused that there are surface water drains in the road but it seems my house has been plumbed to the soakaway on property (seen in plans) - they don't have records as to whether the house is actually connected or not, but they can't get past the water butt issue to worry about that!

For a company supposedly encouraging sustainable water use it seems a weird policy to penalise use of water butts


  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    Are they confused with people with properties that do not have soakaways, but attempt to claim relief from SWD(surface water drainage) on the strength of having water butts. 'They overflow' is the standard response.

    As a temporary measure disconnect the water butt.
  • jc292
    jc292 Posts: 40
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    No confusion. Her words were along the lines of 'as soon as I saw the word waterbutt in your email I knew I couldn't give you the rebate. It's the first thing they tell is in our training that water butts mean we can't do it. All of the surface water has to go to a soakaway and there's a risk that the Waterbutt would overflow when it gets full and then some water might go down our drains so we can't 'risk it'

    Honestly these people are just looking for an excuse. There isn't even a drain near it indeed my whole point to them has been that there are no surface water drainage connections due to the soakaway

    I even sent them photos of the plans and the downpipes but she claimed she couldn't open the images although they were just jpegs. In any case she said she didn't need to look at the photos because the fact I had water butts meant it was a non starter.

    She then ended the call reminding me that TW encouraged sustainable water use what a joke, they disincentivising it!
  • roddydogs
    roddydogs Posts: 7,478
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    There are of course thousands of supposed soakaways that have been channelled down the main drain! Meme to obesself, dont tell them if you hsve a water but.
  • Cardew
    Cardew Posts: 29,034
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    If she is not confused, she is mistaken. Loads of people, without soakaways, attempt to claim relief from SWD charges on the strength of having water butts.

    I would demand an inspection - which is the normal method of determining if you can claim relief from SWD

    If they won't see sense contact the Consumer Council For Water.
  • jc292
    jc292 Posts: 40
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Yes I guess that's the take away message now we know their little rule.

    I will probably renovate the patio next year and get rid of the water butts and try again at that point as I'll need the space. Right now i actually do use them and probably the 20 pounds a year I'll save on the rebate would end up costing me more than that in fresh water for the garden
  • Uxb
    Uxb Posts: 1,340 Forumite
    So you simply remove the water butt and get them to re-inspect.

    I once helped out a person rebuilding their house and they needed to demonstrate disabled access as it had a step up to the front door.
    So we built a wooden ramp over the weekend. The council came to inspect - passed it off as all acceptable and we then cut up the ramp with a chainsaw and put in on a bonfire.
    job done.
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