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Use of drains for treated effluent

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Use of drains for treated effluent

Postby gid » Fri Jun 16, 2017 9:21 am

A ditch runs into a culvert under a boundary wall and then runs entirely underground to a watercourse. There is no mention of this particular drain in the deeds, so it may be a prescriptive easement. Who is responsible for leaks and blockages?

Could this be used to dispose of effluent from a sewage treatment plant? The effluent would be clean enough to dispose in the watercourse to the satisfaction of SEPA, but can the downstream landowner object? Apparently in Scottish law a drain automatically becomes a sewer when passing a boundary. Who would be responsible for leaks and blockages?

As it is an artificial channel it would not come under riparian rights and responsibilities.
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Re: Use of drains for treated effluent

Postby tph » Mon Jun 26, 2017 10:55 pm

Does that ditch start at the property or does it take flows from other properties?

If the drainage arrangement has been in place for more than 20 years there is likely to be an easement by prescription. The responsibility for maintenance is likely to depend on whether any of the downstream properties are connected to the culvert.

The consent to discharge is a separate matter and not usually a process where members of the public can object. However you normally have to prove that the premises cannot be reasonably connected to a public sewer as part of the application.

However it sounds from your post that the matter relates to Scottish Law so things might be different there.
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Re: Use of drains for treated effluent

Postby gid » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:18 pm

The ditch starts on the property, and does not take any flows from other properties before entering the culvert. The downstream side is field drains, with water flowing in from the environment.

Update: SEPA have said that in their opinion it is okay to discharge to the ditch/culvert under riparian law, and decided that the treated effluent is clean enough to discharge to the culvert.

In a similar (but different - only a ditch, no culvert) case the Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (case ref: SPSO 201602603) concluded SEPA had taken reasonable steps to minimise the risk of a nuisance and were not the responsible body for enforcing such a nuisance (though no nuisance had actually yet been proven to exist).

Does the downstream landowner have any grounds to take legal action?
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Re: Use of drains for treated effluent

Postby atticus » Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:59 pm

Has the downstream owner suffered any harm or loss or damage?
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Re: Use of drains for treated effluent

Postby dls » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:23 pm

We do need to assert our usual caution. There are great similarities between Scots and English laws. The differences are sufficient and (to me) quite unpredictable, save to a Scots lawyer.
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Re: Use of drains for treated effluent

Postby gid » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:31 pm

atticus wrote:Has the downstream owner suffered any harm or loss or damage?


No, but the downstream owner is reluctant to maintain his drains. The treatment plant is certified to the highest category on SEPA's scale, so shouldn't cause a nuisance if maintained correctly.
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Re: Use of drains for treated effluent

Postby atticus » Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:44 pm

gid wrote:the downstream owner is reluctant to maintain his drains

I trust that the expression "FFS" is known to Scots law.
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