Select Committee on Public Accounts Thirtieth Report



Sewers provide an essential service to households and businesses throughout the country but they are usually taken for granted. When they fail the consequences can be very damaging, especially when homes are flooded internally with sewage. There were 6,000 such incidents in 2002-03. Although this represents a small proportion of properties connected to the sewer network, these incidents cause great distress and inconvenience for those affected.

The Director General of Water Services is the economic regulator of water and sewerage services in England and Wales and head of Ofwat. Ofwat's statutory duties are to ensure that the functions of water and sewerage companies are properly carried out and that undertakers can finance their functions. In addition to these duties, Ofwat must protect customers' interests as regards price and quality of service; promote economy and efficiency on the part of companies; and facilitate effective competition.[1]

On the basis of a Report from the Comptroller and Auditor General,[2] we took evidence from Ofwat on responsibilities for preventing sewer flooding, compensation for sewer flooding incidents and information on the performance of sewer networks.

1   The Water Act 2003 will change Ofwat's duties, including giving primacy to the protection of customer interests, wherever appropriate by promoting effective competition, from April 2005, and will replace the Director General with a Statutory Board (the Water Services Regulatory Authority) from April 2006. Back

2   C&AG's Report, Out of sight - not out of mind: Ofwat and the public sewer network in England and Wales (HC 161, Session 2003-04). Back

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