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Find out who is responsible for fixing a blocked drain and how to report flooding.


Drains are pipes that carry waste or surface water from one or more properties. Foul drainage carries used water from toilets, sinks, basins, baths, showers, dishwashers and washing machines. Surface water drainage carries rainwater from hard surfaces.

Drains are different to gullies and grilles in the road that take surface water from the road. Cambridgeshire County Council are responsible for cleaning the gullies. When several drains meet and are connected, they become a sewer. Private sewers are owned by the properties they serve, whereas public sewers are usually owned by Anglian Water.

It is likely that you have a blocked drain if the gullies and manholes outside your property overflow, or waste does not go away when you flush the toilet and empty the bath. You can reduce the chances of your drains blocking by making sure you dispose of wet-wipes, washing powders, sanitary products and food waste (including fats, oils and greases) in your green bin.

Who it is responsible for a blocked drain?

The council does not offer a drain cleaning service. The responsibility for a blocked drain depends on who owns the property and where the blockage is. Anglian Water provides some useful advice about who owns a drain and who is best to contact when there is a problem.

Cesspools and septic tanks are the responsibility of the home owner, who will need to employ a contractor to empty them. If you rent your home, you will need to check your tenancy agreement to see if you or the landlord are responsible for maintenance.

The council does not provide an emptying service. However, if there is a problem that is causing a nuisance (such as a cesspool overflowing), we can serve a notice on those responsible instructing them to carry out the work. If the problem still isn't sorted, we can employ a contractor and recharge the costs to the person who is responsible for sorting the problem.


If you experience flooding because of surface water, ground water or water from a open ditch, culvert or drain, you should report the issue to Cambridgeshire County Council who are the lead local flood authority for the Fenland area. If the problem has a serious health or safety implication, the matter should be reported to the Police.

If your property is at risk of flooding, you might want to read more flooding advice.