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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 71135
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Due to a flash downpour of rain, a fresh water sewer maintenance

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Due to a flash downpour of rain, a fresh water sewer maintenance area under my drive 2 drains going into 1 drain. if there is a heavy downpour of rain the service hatches explode with water and a flood ensues. I have recently had a new tarmac driveway installed at a cost of 3.5k. The service hatches were secured with bolts(the usual process from a safety point of view) meaning that when the latest (and extremely heavy) downpour occurred the sewer could not handle the flow of water and my whole drive was 'lifted up like a blanket' from underneath as the water found it's way. The result is a ruined driveway that is unsightly, unusable a risk to others. The Driveway company have stated that it is not their concern as there is no evidence of faulty installation etc. The water company has visited me and 2 maintenance engineers have inspected the drains with no formal outcome. Apparently, the Water Company has opened a 'complex investigation' but this has amounted to nothing but cheap talk. As a result the Water Company are A. not prepared to compensate for out driveway & B. Are reluctant to accept responsibility for ensuring that the sewer is fixed and this never happens again. What are my options?
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
What would you like to achieve?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.


Two outcomes in order of preference are

1. That the issue is fixed once and for all, as this 'explosion' of water is occuring on average twice a year and I need the peice of mind that it will never happen again.

2. and I guess this is why i am contacting you, I want compenastion from the local authority (Water or environmental health) to foot the cost to repair my drive (feel that the drainage for the sewer is not fit for purpose) and for the inconvenience and distress this is causing. The Driveway cost me approx 3.5k in March this year.


I suggest a 3-pronged attack.
Firstly, complain to the Environmental Agency because if this is a sewer then sewage will be coming up through the manhole during these floods and will be going down the normal drains designed only to take surface water and from there into the rivers et cetera.
Secondly complain to the Environmental Health Department at the local authority because as sewage will be coming up, there is a health hazard.
Finally, tell the Sewage Provider that you have done the above and tell them that unless they get this fixed within a reasonable period of time (because of the scale of this that would probably be between 3 months and 6 months) you will issue proceedings against them in common-law private nuisance.
Such litigation is not going to be cheap or risk-free and it is almost certainly not going to be something that you would normally undertake yourself. You may find a solicitor that would deal with it no win no fee but you may struggle to find one.
I would suggest that you check your house insurance to see if you have legal expenses cover that would pay for the legal costs of taking the Utility Provided to court.
As well as a claim in Common Law Nuisance I think you also have a claim in negligence because obviously this pipe that installed is not capable of handling the outflow and as a result of that you have suffered damage and therefore you are entitled to compensation.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi, thanks for that. I just need to make it clear that it's classed (I think) as a fresh water sewer that does not contain human waste. The water that ferocuiously surfaces seems to be fresh.

Even if it is freshwater, you still have a claim in common-law nuisance and negligence.
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