Making the right connections to protect our rivers and streams


We can all do our bit to reduce the risk of pollution to streams, rivers and bathing waters.

Protecting and enhancing the environment is at the core of Northumbrian Water’s business. We constantly maintain and upgrade our sewer network to reduce the likelihood of flooding and pollution. We also work closely with other organisations, in particular the Environment Agency (EA), to maintain and improve river and bathing water quality.

The EA is the guardian of the water environment and is responsible for monitoring what is put into watercourses and into the sea. We all have a responsibility to protect our environment and we would like you to help by checking that your property’s pipework is connected correctly.

ConnectRight is a partnership of organisations who are working to reduce water pollution from drains and sewers by:

• raising awareness and understanding of / about misconnections, sewers and drains and the environmental problems that they cause
• helping property owners and professionals to check drainage connections and take action
• ensuring new drainage is connected right
• helping to develop and support effective practice, policy and regulation
• sharing information and evidence about the problem and supporting research and development of long term solutions

What you can do to help

In the majority of cases fixing the problem is often simple.

• Please check that your drains are connected to the correct sewer.
• If your drains are not connected to the appropriate sewer, please rectify this.
• If you are buying a property, make sure that all the pipework is connected to the correct sewer. Ask your surveyor or contractor to include this in their survey report.
• Help prevent blockages in the sewer network, flooding and pollution by putting fats, oils or grease into the bin, rather than down sinks.
• Only flush what occurs naturally and toilet paper down your toilet.

Please help to protect water quality in our rivers, streams and bathing waters by making sure you have made the right connection.

The illustration above demonstrates which pipes should be connected to surface and foul water systems.

For further information please visit www.connectright.org.uk.

If you are unsure about what to do you can use the services of an approved plumbing contractor via the ‘Watersafe’ scheme or contact us for advice.

Understanding the sewer network

Since the 1920s, most new housing estates have been built with two separate sewerage systems. Both have important, but different roles. Surface water sewers carry rainwater from roofs, roads and drives and discharge it into a nearby stream or river. Foul sewers carry waste water from toilets, baths, showers, sinks, washing machines and dishwashers. Waste water is then transferred to a sewage treatment works where it undergoes extensive treatment before being returned safely to the environment.

What causes pollution?

Sometimes builders, plumbers or householders wrongly connect pipes, which carry waste water from toilets, baths, showers, sinks, washing machines or dishwashers, to the surface water system instead of the foul sewerage system. This can result in pollution to streams and rivers.

This can happen when a property is extended or renovated, when a new house is built or when additional toilets, sinks and appliances are added to a property. If pipes which collect rainwater from roofs, roads and drives are wrongly connected to the foul sewerage system, water can overwhelm the sewer network and can contribute to flooding – this can also result in pollution.

Who is responsible?

Legally it is the person whose property causes the pollution that is responsible. Missed connections are not only harmful to the environment, they are illegal and can result in prosecution by the EA or your local authority.

Pollution from missed connections can also kill plants and fish, create foul smells and is often visually unpleasant. It can also pose a risk to the health of your community, particularly children and animals.

Downloadable content

  1. thumb
  2. thumb

    Is your home connected right?

    ′connect right′ - stop pollution.


Connect right

Connect right logo  

Check your property is connected right. If wastewater or sewage is connected to a surface water drain you may be polluting your local river or beach. Find out more



When you are looking for a plumbing contractor, we recommend you select one which is employed by an eligible member of the WaterSafe approved contractors’ scheme. Find your nearest plumber

Community portal

family on beach  

Our community portal is your voice in the work we do to improve your water and sewage services. Find out more

We use cookies on our website. By continuing to browse our website, you are agreeing to use our cookies. Terms and Conditions