The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has published a consultation on the future management of private water supply pipes. This could apply to residential property only, or to commercial as well.

These are the pipes that usually lead underground from the boundary of a property and emerge above ground within the property.

Defra has expressed concerns that these water supply pipes are not being properly maintained or repaired, since many property owners aren’t aware of their obligations to maintain and repair them.  According to Ofwat, failure to maintain and repair these pipes causes 23% of total water leakage (770 million litres per day) and can lead to a failure of drinking water quality standards. 

To resolve these issues, Defra propose to transfer ownership of most privately owned water supply pipes to the water supply companies.  Defra made a similar change two years ago in relation to the ownership of private sewers and drains, which was generally regarded as a success.  Those who may lose out from the latest proposal include insurers offering pipe repair policies and water pipe repair businesses.