Drainage and sewage

Drains serving a property are the responsibility of the householder up to their boundary. Beyond this point, it becomes Yorkshire Water's responsibility.

Any waste drainage system incorporating a package treatment plant, septic tank or cesspool is the responsibility of the householder.  Following changes in the legislation all new and existing septic tanks must not discharge direct into surface water or a watercourse (such as a ditch, stream, canal or river) and if they do they must be upgraded immediately to a compliant package treatment plant or redirected. As well as reducing pollution the changes will mean homeowners will struggle to sell their home if their septic tank is not compliant. For further advice please contact the Environment Agency or a reputable drainage contractor.

Yorkshire Water look after thousands of kilometres of private sewers and drains. To report a problem please visit Yorkshire Water's website.

Typical problems

  • sometimes, drains and treatment plants can block. Fats, oils, grease and food waste can become a major problem, especially combined with nappy liners, wipes and sanitary items, which can get caught in the pipe. Bathroom and kitchen waste should always be bagged and binned
  • treatment plants can fail because of poor maintenance, misuse of the system, or the tank and its soak-away can just naturally come to the end of their working life. You should have the tank emptied and maintained regularly
  • a smell from your drain could be an early sign of a blockage or fault. Check for any leaks under your sink, remove debris from outside gullies and grates, and make sure your toilet flushes properly

We have a public health duty to ensure blocked or defective drains or treatment plants are cleared or repaired. To report a problem, that is not being dealt with by those responsible, please contact us at [email protected]

For help and advice on highway drainage, contact North Yorkshire County Council.

Environmental protection enquiries and issues