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How to deal with blocked drains and flooding

Types of drainage

Drains are pipes that carry waste or surface water from one or more properties. 

Foul drainage carries used waste from toilets, sinks, basins, baths, showers, dishwashers and washing machines. Surface water drainage carries rainwater from hard surfaces. 

Drains are different to gullies and grilles in the road. Cambridgeshire County Council are responsible for cleaning the gullies. 

When several drains meet and are connected, they become a sewer. Private sewers are owned by the properties they serve. Public sewers are usually owned by Anglian Water. 

Blocked drains

You may have a blocked drain if:

  • gullies and manholes overflow outside your property
  • waste doesn't go away when you flush the toilet or empty the bath

You can reduce the chance of your drains blocking by putting wet-wipes, washing powders, sanitary products and food waste (including fats, oils and grease) in your green bin

We do not offer a drain clearing service. 

Who is responsible for blocked drains

The responsibility depends on who owns the property and where the blockage is. 

Anglian Water offers useful advice about who owns a drain and who to contact.

Home owners are responsible for cesspools and septic tanks. They will need to employ a contractor to empty them. If you rent your home, your tenancy agreement should say who is responsible for maintenance. 

If a problem is causing a nuisance (such as a cesspool overflowing), we can serve a notice on the person responsible. This will tell them to carry out the work. If they don't, we can employ a contractor to do it. Costs will be recharged to the person responsible. 


Contact Cambridgeshire County Council if you experience flooding because of surface water, ground water or water from an open ditch, culvert or drain.

Contact the Police if the problem is an immediate threat to health or safety. 

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