Preventing water pollution from your home

Did you know that there are three different types of drains which take water and wastewater away from your home?

Foul (wastewater) drains – this is where the waste from your toilet, dishwashers and sinks should go. From your drain, it goes to a wastewater treatment works where it’s treated so it can go safely back into our rivers and the sea.

Surface water drains – when it rains, the water falling on buildings and pavements has to go somewhere. These drains take rainwater to rivers and the sea as it doesn’t need to be treated.

Combined drains – these are usually found in older properties where the foul water and surface water go into the same drain, which is then taken to the wastewater treatment works.

Do you lknow where it goes logoIf your house was built after 1920 you may have separate drains so please carry on reading…

Sometimes we find that houses have connected their toilet, shower, washing machine or dishwasher to the wrong drain. They should be connected to the foul drain - which would take the dirty water away for treatment. But instead they are connected to the surface water drain, which means the dirty water goes straight into local streams, rivers and eventually the sea. You might be surprised to know thousands of homes across the North-West are unknowingly misconnected in this way.

So that our beautiful local streams and rivers stay clean and healthy (this means happy fish too), we’re asking people to check that your loos, showers, washing machines and dishwashers are all plumbed into the right drains.

The diagram below shows how your drains should look. If they don’t work like this, you may be wrongly connected.

 house diagram

You can double check online at

We work jointly with the Environment Agency to combat the issue of misconnected household drains. Once a contaminated outfall has been discovered - that means where foul water is going where it shouldn't - the pollution can be traced back to specific properties. It’s worth bearing in mind that homeowners can end up facing bills to put right misconnected appliances, plus a prosecution and a fine of up to £2,500 can arise if they refuse.

Make sure you are connected right - use our handy leaflet (right) to find out more.

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