To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
(1) what assessment he has made of problems with privately owned drains in relation to surface water flooding;
(2) what estimate he has made of the number of drains under private riparian ownership.
The term 'drain' has a wide definition, encompassing smaller watercourses, ditches, sewers etc. There is no estimate of the total number under private ownership.
We announced in February 2007 that private sewers and lateral drains in England draining to the public sewerage system will be transferred into the ownership of water companies. This is to ensure a more integrated management of the sewerage system and to help meet the challenges of climate change and future housing growth. It has been estimated that up to 50 per cent. of properties in England and Wales are connected to a private sewer in one form or another and are unlikely to have any kind of maintenance regime, most householders being unaware that they are responsible for them.