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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Two MoneySavers reclaim £1,000+: How to check and challenge incorrect water bills
in Water bills
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MSE_Emily MSE StaffMSE Staff
in Water bills
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"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.
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.
Any idea how to proceed? Thanks
My water company is Thames Water and we moved into our house on a private road with 47 houses over 20 years ago. To the best of my knowledge Thames have charged for surface water drainage for all that time (and before) even though they had the original street building plans in their possession showing that the drainage was to soak-aways for the entire street.
I requested a rebate recently and got 6 years surface water rebate approved within 2 days, presumably because it was so easy for Thames to check their own records. But why only 6 years rebate? Thames have clearly been charging without justification since the houses were built.
Householders cannot easily check where their water goes - it goes down a hole into a pipe and disappears and without digging up the road how do they know whether it goes into a soak-away or the sewage system? Thames Water had the plans and knew the charge should not have been levied. As the "experts", if my ancient knowledge of contract law is correct, they were at fault in law and I think they should make full restitution.