Misconnected private drains pose a big risk to bathing water quality.

Misconnections commonly occur when appliances such as toilets, dishwashers and washing machines are incorrectly plumbed into a surface water sewer, instead of the foul sewer. This means that instead of used water being treated at water recycling centres before being returned safely to the environment, it is released directly into our rivers, streams and bathing waters through surface water sewers that were only ever intended to carry harmless rainwater after storms. One misconnection may seem small but multiple misconnections in a localised area can have a cumulative negative impact on the water environment.

Part of the work our coastal water protection team is carrying out involves investigating surface water drains where we suspect there may be a misconnection. A single surface water sewer can be extremely long and may collect rainwater from a large area containing several hundred properties so the task of identifying misconnections can be complicated.

Using a variety of methods, our specialist teams inspect private manholes and test waste water connections from properties to find out if they are connected to the correct sewer. This approach has been successful in identifying misconnections and rectifying them. Since September 2012 our teams have successfully identified and corrected approximately 150 misconnections in the Southend area alone. This spring we are planning on continuing our work across Southend, and starting investigations on Mersea Island.

More information to help you determine whether you are connected to the right sewer can be found on the Connectright website. If you spot anything unusual, that could mean there’s a misconnection; please let us know. We would also encourage customers to use an approved plumber for any home improvements.

To find an approved plumber visit watersafe