We explain the difference between wholesalers and retailers to understand the differences between the two and their responsibilities.

  • Retailers are responsible for providing customer services including, handling complaints and enquiries, billing for water and wastewater services, and reading meters. If you have a query about your water or wastewater services, you should contact your retailer in the first instance – contact details can be found on your bill.
  • Wholesalers (also referred to as water companies) are responsible for maintaining pipework and taking care of the water supply and removal of wastewater. This includes the removal of surface water and highways drainage.

What are site area based charges?

Site area based charging is one-method wholesalers use to work out how much a business property should pay for its Surface Water Drainage. Site Area charging is made up of two charges, a Surface Water Charge and a Highway Drainage Charge.

Surface Water Charge

Surface Water Charge is the cost that covers the removal and treatment of rainwater from a property.  If rainwater drains from your property into a public sewer, you will be charged for this service.

Highway Drainage charges

This covers the cost to remove and treat rainwater falling on the roads and footpaths. This is paid by all customers and goes towards the cost of removing water from the highways. There is no option to have highway drainage charges removed from your bill.

How site area based charging is calculated?

Your wholesaler, rather than your retailer is responsible for calculating the site area charges. They will assign a site area-charging band to your property, which shows how much you should pay for your surface water drainage charges.

To calculate your site area-charging banding, your wholesaler will use several information sources and take a number of factors into account, including:

  • The total site area of your premises – including the boundary and all land within the boundary.
  • Discount any permanently grassed, cultivated or landscaped areas, where no surface water or groundwater drains into a public sewer.
  • Review the site to determine whether or not the surface area holds water, and evaporates naturally.

Your highway drainage charge is worked out by calculating the total boundary area of your premises. Once this has been calculated, you will be assigned a banding based on the total area of your site.

Not all companies use site area based charging as a way to work out surface water drainage charging. Alternative methods of calculation are:

  • The property’s Rateable Value
  • The meter size
  • Approximate water consumption based on the size of the property.

If you are unsure how your Site Area Charges have been calculated, please contact your retailer who will be able to explain which method your wholesaler has used to calculate the charges.

What if not all surface water drains into the network?

You should only pay surface water drainage charges for the part of the property where water drains into public sewers. Your retailer should not charge you for areas where there is natural drainage, such as a field or if your property has a soakaway.

The larger your site area, the more surface water is likely to drain from it. Therefore, charging by site area better reflects the actual costs imposed on the system by customers. We believe that the fairest way to charge consumers for surface water drainage is through site area based charging.

Site area based charging is more environmentally friendly and can help reduce the risk of flooding as it encourages customers to use more sustainable forms of drainage. It also allows customers control how much they pay.

If you choose to install a soakaway or lay permeable surfaces for car parks and walkways, this could, in most cases, reduce surface water drainage charges.

Can site area charges be reduced or cancelled?

If none of the surface water from your premises enters a public sewer then you may be eligible for the surface water charges to be cancelled.

If you believe you should not be paying water surface water charges, you should contact your retailer and ask them to review your premises. If your retailer agrees to review your surface water charges, it will need to see supporting evidence; this will usually include a diagram of your site documenting:

  • your property boundary;
  • the public sewer and your connection to it (if known);
  • how the surface water drains from your property, for example, the location of downpipes, soakaways, inspection chambers.
  • areas where water soaks into the ground.

Once your retailer has all the evidence it needs it will arrange for someone to inspect the property to confirm your drainage arrangements. The results of the review will be submitted to your wholesaler to make the final decision on whether Surface Water charges should be removed.

A review of Surface Water Charges does not mean charges will automatically be removed, charges could also be reduced or remain the same depending on the outcome of the investigation.

If Surface Water Charges are removed, the resulting adjustment to charges will be applied against the current years charges for the current occupier. Whether adjustments are made against charges to the current occupier for earlier years will depend on the policy of the wholesaler.

Time limits do vary for individual companies, so please ask your retailer for details on its policy regarding this if you are unsure.

Claiming a reduction or removal of your surface water charge will not reduce your highway drainage charge.