Who is responsible for what pipes

Supply pipe arrangement

Who is responsible for which pipes?

Many people do not realise that the Cambridge Water is not the owner of all of the pipes that lead to their properties. You can see from the picture above that your property is connected to the water main in the road by a supply pipe. There will be a stop tap on this pipe – usually found in your garden. If you have a shared supply, or are unsure how the following information relates to your premises, please contact us.

Our pipes We own:

  • The stop tap in the road or pavement; and usually
  • The supply pipe from the main to the boundary of your property.
  • The water meter, where fitted.

We have a legal responsibility to maintain and repair any of these pipes. You can find out more in the section entitled Leaks. Your pipes

You, or whoever owns the property, are responsible for:

  • The rest of the supply pipe, which takes water into the house.
  • Your own stop tap, either located in your garden or inside your house.
  • All the plumbing inside the house.

Any issues with your internal plumbing, or any leaks in your front garden or under your drive are likely to be your responsibility to repair. If the problem is inside your property we recommend you contact an approved plumber.

They will be able to ensure any work carried out on your property meets the requirements of the Water Supply (Water Fittings) Regulations 1999. Failure to comply with these regulations can result in prosecution. 

If your pipe runs under other properties before it reaches yours, it is still your responsibility. If you need your underground pipework locating or tracing within your property boundary we recommend you engage an approved plumber.

Please note: Cambridge Water has the right to lay and maintain pipes on private land subject to serving the required statutory notices. For further information please refer to our Code of Practice for the Exercise of Pipe-Laying Powers in Private Land.

Shared supply pipes

If you live in an older property, you may share a supply pipe with your neighbours. This may cause a reduced flow at your taps when your neighbours are using water. We may require the replacement of a shared supply pipe with separate supply pipes if:

  • The pipe is in poor condition or can no longer meet the needs of the properties.
  • The houses are converted into a number of flats or homes.
  • The shared supply pipe has been interfered with. You and your neighbours are responsible for the costs of separating the supply pipe and for repairing any leaks. If you are buying a property it is important to find out whether the supply pipe is shared with another property. If a fault occurs you may be responsible for any costs. Any disputes about the requirement to have a separate supply pipe will be referred to Ofwat to decide. If you are unsure about whether or not you have a shared supply pipe you should contact Cambridge Water on 01223 706050.

Electrical earthing

The water pipes in some older houses (particularly those built before 1963) may be used as an earth for household electrical appliances. The increasing use of plastic water pipes reduces the effectiveness of your water pipe as an earth. The use of water pipes as an earth is illegal and highly dangerous. Providing electrical earthing is not one of our services. If you would like more information and advice you are advised to contact a qualified electrician.