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New Water Bill Q&A’s

Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 (as amended Water and Sewerage Services Act (Northern Ireland) 2016)

1. How will the changes to the legislation affect a new development?
From the 23rd May 2016 any person proposing to connect a sewer or a lateral drain to a public sewer will require written approval to connect on the basis of a mandatory Sewer Adoption Agreement.  

The Agreement will be subject to three conditions.
  • Condition One specifies that the agreement should set out the standards to which the sewers, lateral drains and works are to be constructed;
  • Condition Two sets out provisions as to the adoption of the sewers, lateral drains and works, and 
  • Condition Three states that the agreement must be accompanied by an adequate bond security provided for the discharge of the obligations imposed under the agreement.

In addition to the existing grounds for refusal
NI Water will be able to refuse a surface water connection on the grounds that suitable alternatives to connection to the public sewer exist, or could reasonably be provided.  
These will include sustainable drainage systems.
The right to communicate with a public sewer is subject to a ‘mandatory Sewer Adoption Agreement’ being in place for all private sewers, lateral drains and works, before approval to connect is granted.

If all the Conditions are complied with, NI Water may not reasonably refuse connection

2. Where sewers are currently being constructed on a number of developments which do not currently have Article 161 sewer adoption agreements, should work stop on installing sewers on the specified date?
Where sewers     are being constructed and an article 161 sewer adoption agreement(s) for development(s) is not in place by the specified date, any communication by a private sewer or lateral drain with a public sewer after this date cannot be connected until an adoption agreement is in place

3. At what stage is sewage capacity taken into account?
This will not change from the existing processes.  NI Water offers a Pre-Development Enquiry service.  Anyone involved in new development for two properties or more should contact NI Water to discuss their proposals at the earliest opportunity.

4. On a phased development is there likely to be a phased release of bond?
Yes, phasing of developments needs to be considered in detail when setting up new adoption agreements.  Individual phases, ideally need to be setup in a successive order ensuring "down stream" systems are adopted first.  NI Water cannot adopt the upstream sewers if the downstream sewers are not adopted.  It is also important that there is always a clear route to connect to a public sewer network.

5. Does the Sewer Agreement need to be in place before an approved     contractor is appointed to connect a single dwelling / property?
A Transport NI Street Works Accredited contractor may be appointed at any time during the process, but a sewer connection will not be guaranteed ahead of the completion of a sewer adoption agreement including paying associated fees and charges, and securing a bond.

6. What is the length of the maintenance period under the terms of the Agreement?
This has not changed.  The defects liability period from the date of the Preliminary Certificate of Completion will be a minimum of 12 months for sewers and 3 months for single property lateral drains

7. Where an ongoing development site was deemed to be ‘private’ with roads and sewers privately managed with a secure gate around the development boundary, Will a sewer adoption agreement be required for this development?
The new legislation applies to all new sewers and lateral drains which will communicate with the public sewer network.  Gated developments are not excluded.  NI Water will need to address developments such as this on a site-by-site basis and recommend that you contact the Developer Services Team.

8. Are long-sections required for all adoptable sewers, in an initial submission,     or will a schedule be acceptable?
This has not changed.  Details of information including long-sections are required with an initial sewer adoption submission.  Our requirements are contained in our guidance notes which can found on our website, NI Water ‘Services for Developers’

9. What are the conditions of the agreement for sustainable drainage systems (SuDS)?
Clause 4 of the Water Act provides a definition of sustainable drainage systems for dealing with surface water from premises, and provides the power to adopt specified SuDS structures.

10. What does NI Water consider when approving a surface water connection application?
When considering the approval of a surface water connection to a public sewer Clause 5 of the 2016 Act requires consideration of the mode of construction, and the standard of  construction of the on-site surface water sewers, including if the making of the surface water connection may be prejudicial to NI Water’s public sewer network.  Additionally consideration has to be given to the use of alternative means of surface water disposal and if these could reasonably be provided.

Where applicable the other party to the agreement will be required to construct one or more Source Control SuDS for dealing with surface water from the development as a condition of approval of the connection.

11. Will surface water lateral drains need to be added to plans for existing sites?
This has not changed, all sewers and all lateral drains within the development will need to be included within the agreement.  The agreement will also highlight all sewers and lateral drains which will be adopted

12. Will ‘green field’ run-off be the ‘norm’ going forward?
The 2016 Act places a requirement for SuDS to be considered and constructed where appropriate and for NI Water to refuse surface water connections to a public sewer.

The approval for surface water run-off from development will be under the responsibility of the water course management section of the new Department of Infrastructure.  With the exception of tidal estuaries and coastal waters, green field run-off should be considered as a normal starting point for design of development surface water drainage systems.

13. Will a school or hotel complex need to enter into an Article 161 Agreement prior to getting approval for a connection?
A school or hotel is a single curtilage site, in that the drainage system within the site solely serving the property is owned and operated by one body.  The connection from the single curtilage site to a public sewer within the curtilage of the property is a drain and not a sewer and therefore does not meet the criteria for a sewer to be considered for adoption.  Permission to connect to the public sewer must be applied for under normal procedures.  This procedure has not changed

If the drain serving the property connects to a public sewer in a public area, the part of the drain in the public area is a lateral drain and must have approval under an agreement to connect and be adopted by NIW.

14. Will sewers around multi-unit blocks, eg. apartments be considered for adoption by agreement?
Sewers serving single curtilage buildings which contains units capable of separate occupation will be considered by NI Water as an adoptable system and an agreement for future adoption and connection to the public sewer will be required.

15. Will the Sewers for Adoption Guidance Manual be updated to reflect the new requirements?
Yes, a review of the Sewers for Adoption First Edition NI (SfA1NI) Guidance Manual is currently under way and Sewers for Adoption Second Edition NI (SfA2NI) Guidance Manual we hope will be available later this year.

16. What standards will NI Water require in designing SuDS systems?
NI Water will accept the design standards based on the CIRIA SuDs Manual C753 published in November 2015.  It covers the planning, design, construction and maintenance of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) to assist with their effective implementation within both new and existing developments.

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