Every time it rains, water runs from a property into a public drain – where it’s processed and turned into drinking water – and we’re charged for it.
The problem is that water companies generally don’t know if this is, or isn’t, the case – and if water isn’t running from your home into the drains then you’re due a rebate.
The better news is that the rebate can be back-dated for 6 years – meaning cheaper water now and up to £240 back from your supplier.
These are the rules and what to look out for:
“If rainwater drains from your property into a public sewer, you will be charged for surface water drainage through your sewerage bill,” water regulator Ofwat explains.
This includes water that flows through gutters or that runs into the road and ends up in a company-owned sewer.
“The companies collect around £1 billion each year to cover the costs of this service.”
You pay the surface water drainage charge in one of three ways:
* a fee in the standing charge
* a charge based on the rateable value of your property
* through a charge related to the type of property you live in
But – and it’s a big but – water companies don’t actually know the surface water drainage arrangements of the individual properties in their areas.
And if water goes somewhere that’s not a public drain, then you’re owed money back.
“If rainwater does not drain from your property into a public sewer, because you have a soakaway or similar, you may be entitled to a surface water drainage rebate,” the regulator sates.
Getting a rebate
The first step is to contact your company – there are 32 regulated water and sewerage companies in England and Wales, you can see which one covers you here and find their contact details here.
Once you’ve done that, your company should explain the sort of evidence that it needs for you to get your rebate.
If you do qualify for a rebate, you won’t be charged for surface water drainage in future bills and some of the amount you’ve paid previously will be refunded.
You can get up to 6 years’ worth of rebates – with some people reporting these are worth £240, and £40 off future bills.
If you’ve applied and don’t think you’ve been treated fairly (or have any other problems with your water company) you should contact the Consumer Council for Water.
It’s a free service and you can see all their contact details here.