More than a million letters will be sent out from Monday (July 4) to householders, businesses and landlords throughout the North East informing them of a change of ownership of drains and sewers.
The national change, introduced by the Government and which comes into effect on Saturday 1 October, 2011; will see many pipes that were formerly private responsibility switch to Northumbrian Water.
Householders or landlords will still remain responsible for private drains serving their property within its boundary as well as gutters and downpipes.
The pipes that will transfer from private to water company ownership are those outside the boundary or those within the boundary which are shared by other properties and which connect into the existing water company public sewer often located in the roadway.
Customers of Northumbrian Water do not need to take any action or contact the company. Some 1.2 million letters containing details about the change will be sent out throughout this month.
Further details, including additional information, illustrations, frequently asked questions, an explanatory video and advice about looking after private drains can be found by logging onto Northumbrian Water’s website: www.nwl.co.uk
Currently Northumbrian Water is responsible for about 16,000km of sewers and it estimates that with the transfer that will rise to almost 30,000km.
Responsibility for private pumping stations will also eventually transfer to the water companies. That transfer is to be completed by October 2016.
Mike Madine, Northumbrian Water’s Sewerage Manager, said: "Implementing this change is a huge job for the water company and good news for customers. Many more pipes will become our responsibility giving householders, businesses and landlords less to worry about.
"Overall the drainage system will be better integrated and investment can be targeted where it is needed. It will be a fairer system with maintenance and repair costs being shared across all customers."
Northumbrian Water does not expect customers to see any impact on their bills for at least three years and the government estimates that the cost will eventually be between 6p to 27p a week.
Northumbrian Water has created 85 new jobs in preparation for the change with recruitment well underway.
The water company will deal with all contacts from customers once the change is implemented and is about to appoint approved and highly experienced contractors to carry out any required work in the field on its behalf.
Mike Madine added: "We have been working hard behind the scenes for about two years in readiness for the change and we have done all we can to prepare. We hope the transfer will take place as smoothly as possible and not impact upon our current high levels of customer service.
"One big issue that we will have to tackle is the fact that there is a lack of knowledge about the private pipes, including where they are and their condition.
"We have geared up to respond and have engaged in extensive consultation with regulators, customer representatives, other water companies, local authorities, housing associations and customer focus groups to be as ready as we can be for the transfer," he said.
For further information contact Alistair Baker 0191-301-6851 or 07711-793-493