Cesspools, septic tanks, and sewage treatment plants

Breckland Council do not offer a service for emptying septic tanks or cesspools, but we may take action where these cause a statutory nuisance.

Report a drainage issue online

Or contact the council on 01362 656870.

For information on cesspools and septic tanks,please visit the GOV.UK septic tanks page. (opens new window).

View our  Breckland Council Sewage Treatment Booklet (PDF) [231KB] (opens new window)

Drains and sewers

A drain is normally a pipe carrying off liquid waste from a single building. The maintenance and repair of private drains are the responsibility of the householder/landowner. 

A sewer is normally a large pipe, usually underground, that is used for carrying waste water and human waste away from more than one property. Blockages or damage to private and public sewers should be reported toAnglian Water

On private land, rainwater gullies are the responsibility of the owner or occupier.

Land drainage - a guide to responsibilities

Norfolk County Council are now the Lead Local Flood Authority and have the power to enforce the Land Drainage Act 1991.Further information can be found on the Norfolk County Council website (opens new window).

Responsibility for the maintenance of many watercourses rests with the landowners or property owners who have watercourses passing through or adjacent to their land. In some instances, the Internal Drainage Board has responsibility for the maintenance of watercourses. These riparian rights are not absolute and you may need to obtain consent for work from Norfolk County Council.

Before starting any work on or adjacent to a watercourse, you must submit plans of what you propose to Norfolk County Council Floods and Water Management to determine whether you require their consent and/or planning permission. Environment issues, including flood risk, wildlife conservation, fisheries and the reshaping of the watercourse and landscape, must all be considered.

Your rights:

  • You may own land up to the centre of the watercourse.
  • You have the right to receive flow of water in its natural state, without undue interference in quality or quantity.
  • You have the right to protect your property from flooding and your land from erosion.
  • You have the right to fish in your watercourse, although this must be by legal methods and with an Environment Agency rod licence.
  • Without a licence from the Environment Agency, you can:
    • Abstract a maximum of 20 cubic metres per day of water for the domestic purposes of your own household, or for agricultural use (excluding spray irrigation). This must be from a watercourse at a point that directly adjoins your land.
      • Other types of abstraction will likely require a licence from the Environment Agency.

Your responsibilities:

  • You have the responsibility to pass on flow without obstruction, pollution or diversion affecting the rights of others.
  • You have the responsibility to accept flood flows through your land, even if caused by inadequate capacity downstream, as there is no common law duty to improve a watercourse.
  • You must not cause any obstructions to the free passage of fish.
  • You are responsible for keeping the bed and banks clear of any matter that could cause an obstruction, either on your land or by being washed away by high flow to obstruct a structure downstream.
  • Watercourses and their banks should not be used for the disposal of any form of garden or other waste.
  • You are responsible for keeping clear any structures that you own such as culverts, trash screens, weirs and mill gates.
  • You are responsible for protecting your property from seepage through natural or manmade banks
    • The consequences of failing to do so may become the concern of the Environment Agency.
  • You may be responsible for maintaining a culvert that connects a ditch on your property to another ditch where the culvert passes under the highway.

Useful contact details

Last updated: 18/05/2023 12:10:06