Sewage flooding and blockages

If there is flooding in the Borough, the Council will assist the emergency services in dealing with the incident, however there are many ways in which you can personally ensure that you are prepared to cope with a flood.

Sewage flooding

In times of extremely intense rainfall, the flood drainage system may become overwhelmed and the water may find its way into the sewers. This can result in sewage flooding, whereby flood water is contaminated with sewage, which can be hazardous to health if not avoided and managed carefully.

Contact your GP immediately or call NHS 111 if you display any symptoms such as diarrhoea or vomiting after a flood.

Whilst contaminated flood water can be hazardous to health, following basic hygiene procedures and these instructions will make it unlikely for you to be at any increased health risk from sewage flooding:

  • wash hands and disinfect footwear after any contact with the sewage
  • keep children and pets out of any area affected by sewage flooding
  • whilst cleaning up after flooding, protect cuts and grazes with waterproof dressings and wear protective clothing such as rubber gloves
  • don't eat any fruit or vegetables growing in the garden if it has flooded, and don't plant any more for at least 6 months after sewer flooding. In the 6 months after this period you can plant new crops, provided that you don't harvest them for at least two months


Thames Water are responsible for maintaining, repairing and clearing sewers and drains. If you suspect that a sewer or drain is blocked, call Thames Water on 0800 980 8800 who will clear the blockage free of charge. If the blockage is not Thames Water's responsibility, they will advise at the time. Thames Water are not responsible for:

  • waste pipes above ground
  • drains between the property and the boundary of the land, that serve only one property
  • sewers and drains that serve multiple dwellings (eg flats)
  • If there is a blocked gulley in the road, please report it to Surrey County Council

Blockage on neighbouring property

If there is a blockage at a property that you are renting, you should contact Thames Water as well as informing your landlord as soon as possible. A blockage inside a property is the responsibility of the owner/occupier - if it is in pipe work shared between two or more properties, then it will usually be joint responsibility. In a private block of flats it is normally the managing company's responsibility.

If you suspect a blockage on your neighbours property, you may wish to inform them and advise that they contact Thames Water on 0845 920 0800. If a neighbour is refusing to remove a blockage for which they are responsible, you can ask for Environmental Health to intervene - all complainants' details will be handled with confidentiality. Council staff will investigate the issue and identify responsibility for its resolution.

If necessary, the Council will serve a legal notice on the property owner or occupier requiring the unblocking of the drain or sewer. Failure to comply may result in the Council arranging for the work to be carried out by a private contractor, the cost of which will be recovered from the owner or occupier, as well as an administration charge.


Drains and sewers are generally designed to be self-cleaning, however careful maintenance is still important for their longevity:


  • periodically examine the system to identify any necessary repairs, paying particular attention to manholes
  • check for water overflowing from gullies or manhole covers
  • clear any blockages, including partial blockages


  • damage drains and obstruct access to manhole covers
  • put potentially blocking items down the toilet, such as nappies
  • pour cooking fat or oil into the sink or drains, as it will solidify and cause blockages