Two MoneySavers reclaim £1,000+: How to check and challenge incorrect water bills

in Water Bills
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MSE_EmilyMSE_Emily MSE Staff
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MSE Staff
Two MoneySavingExpert.com users have secured refunds and compensation worth thousands - and reduced their waste water bills - after arguing their bills should have been lower as their homes aren't connected to public sewers. Here's how others in England and Wales can maybe do the same...

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Two MoneySavers reclaim £1,000+: How to check and challenge incorrect water bills if you use a soakaway or septic tank

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  • mark_cycling00mark_cycling00 Forumite
    44 Posts
    10 Posts
    Forumite
    minor point:
    "septic tank or water treatment plant". 

    Many homes with septic tanks that were close to streams/rivers have had to replace with with water treatment plants, but they also don't need to pay for waste water. 


  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    Part of the Furniture 10,000 Posts Name Dropper Rampant Recycler
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    The subject of Surface Water Drainage(SWD) has been a mess since the privatisation of Water.

    For many years the companies relied on the provisions of ‘The Water Act’ which stated that the default position would be that customers would be charged for SWD unless the customer claimed relief. This was despite the fact that for the last 40 years planning permission for new properties mandated soakaways wherever practical.

    We still have the ludicrous situation where in a multi storey block of flats every individual flat is charged SWD, or some have claimed and been granted relief from SWD charges and others still haven’t claimed.

    Until relatively recently water companies relied on the Water Act regulations and would only backdate relief from the SWD charge to the start of the financial year. I tried unsuccessfully to help an elderly lady get relief for SWD backdated as she had lived on an estate, where every house had a soakaway, for 20 years, and some houses had obtained relief many years previously. The water company refused to backdate relief and they were backed by Ofwat.

    More recently the interpretation of regulations has changed and backdated relief has been granted where it was reasonable for the water company to have known that properties had soakaways. However in almost every case I have heard about relief was granted for a maximum of 6 years.

    The situation is still a mess and many thousands, if not millions, of people are unfairly paying SWD.

    It is pertinent to add that the water companies do not profit from this 'overcharging' or lose out from granting relief as their total revenue is fixed by Ofwat. If, say, they lost £1 million in SWD charges, other charges are raised to compensate.






  • Luckyal_3Luckyal_3 Forumite
    3 Posts
    Part of the Furniture First Post Combo Breaker
    Newbie
    I got a reduction in my water bill when I drew attention to the use of a soakaway but as I live in a block of 12 flats I received only a pro-rata amount. It was easy to do although I had to look hard at my bill to spot the relevant clause. It only £20 a year but better in my pocket...
  • Ange1ahAnge1ah Forumite
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    First Post
    Newbie
    I looked at this when I moved house in 2020 into a 2005 build with a soak away and the down pipes all go straight into the ground but the form from Severn Trent was asking for a plan showing the location of the soak away and also the size which isn’t information I have. I did contact the housing developers who said that they don’t have the plans and that the first buyers would have been shown where it was. There is nothing on the planning permission either, it just had a couple of street maps which don’t represent what they actually built anyway! 
    Any idea how to proceed? Thanks 
  • CardewCardew Forumite
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    Forumite
    Ange1ah said:
    I looked at this when I moved house in 2020 into a 2005 build with a soak away and the down pipes all go straight into the ground but the form from Severn Trent was asking for a plan showing the location of the soak away and also the size which isn’t information I have. I did contact the housing developers who said that they don’t have the plans and that the first buyers would have been shown where it was. There is nothing on the planning permission either, it just had a couple of street maps which don’t represent what they actually built anyway! 
    Any idea how to proceed? Thanks 
    Welcome to the forum.

    I know your house well!! The soakaway is exactly 1.65 metres from the downpipe at the rear of your house.!

    Seriously this is a standard(stupid) practice from Severn Trent. For a 2005 house they probably won't bother with an inspection. So just sketch a plan of where it is most likely to be(under a lawn?) and approx 1 metre square. (an old neighbour told you the information)

    All they will do in the unlikely event of an inspection is squirt some coloured dye into gutters, run a hose, and check none enter the sewers.


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