Are you paying too much for your water bill? You may be due a surface water drainage rebate

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You could be due money back on your water bill if your property has a ‘soakaway’, rather than letting water go into the mains drainage. Find out about a surface water drainage rebate.

Surface water drainage rebate

Water bills normally cover the cost of supplying water for you to drink and use, the cost of taking away rainwater and a charge for sewerage. But if your property has a soakaway, any rainwater that falls on your property and garden will end up there, and won’t drain into the public sewers. In that case, you shouldn’t be paying your water company the surface water charge, and should get a surface water drainage rebate.

SAVVY TIP: A soakaway is basically a pit that’s designed to let rainwater soak away into the ground gradually. Rather than the ground being saturated after a heavy downpour or storm, the soakaway holds water and releases it over time.

Water companies don’t know whether your property has a soakaway or not, so they charge everyone a surface water drainage charge, and pay a rebate for those who apply for it. It’s not a great system, and it undoubtedly means that some people pay for a service they’re not receiving.

If you have a septic tank or cesspit, you shouldn’t be paying for sewerage costs either.

How you pay for surface water drainage

You can be charged for the cost of dealing with rainwater and surface water in one of three ways:

  • Part of your standing charge: this is a fixed daily fee which you pay your water company.
  • A charge based on the rateable value of your property
  • A charge based on the type of property you live in.

SAVVY TIP: The surface water drainage fee may not be a fortune. Having checked with a couple of companies, it could be as little as £24 a year. But it’s still money you shouldn’t be paying if you have a soakaway.

How to find out if you have a soakaway

You should have been told when you bought the house that there was a soakaway. But if not, water companies suggest that you check the title deeds or contact your local council and ask if you can see a copy of the original planning application.

Getting a surface water drainage rebate

If you have a soakaway, you can register not to pay the charge and claim a surface water drainage rebate. The rules from Ofwat, the water regulator, say that if the water company knew, or should have known, that you have a soakaway, you can get a refund on money you’ve already paid. Some water companies will let you claim a surface water drainage rebate backdated for a year or two, others don’t set a specific time limit.

SAVVY TIP: If you have a septic tank or cesspit and are not connected to the sewerage system at all, you shouldn’t be charged for this. In that case, contact your water supplier.

Get in touch with the Consumer Council for Water if you’re having problems getting a rebate.

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