Tom Melhuish 5 min read

What is a surface drainage charge and how do I get a rebate?

Across Britain, businesses are charged over £1 billion annually for surface drainage.

Our guide explains what you are getting for this additional cost to your business and under what circumstances you can request a rebate from your supplier in regards to a surface drainage charge.

What is a surface drainage charge?

Rainwater falling on your business premise often flows directly into the sewer operated by the local water wholesaler. The rain making its way into the sewerage system will combine with the wastewater produced by your business.

The local water wholesaler is responsible for removing these sources of water from your premises into the wider sewage network where it is collected and treated.

If rainwater falling on your business property makes its way into the sewer, your business water supplier can charge you a surface drainage charge.

The management and removal of rainwater from urban areas is an extremely important role for the water wholesaler as it prevents flooding, which is only becoming worse because of climate change.

The cost of this service is passed on to British businesses through the surface draining charge.

How is the surface drainage charge calculated?

The surface drainage charge is levied by your business water supplier, but the way this charge is calculated depends on the water company that manages the sewer network in your local area.

Broadly speaking, the surface drainage charge you pay depends on the surface area of your property. The bigger the area, the more rainwater needs to be drained into the sewers.

The regional wholesalers calculate the surface drainage charge as follows:

i. Based upon an assessment of the area encompassed by each property:
Northumbrian, Severn Trent, Scotland, United Utilities and Yorkshire

ii. Based upon the size of your water meter:
Anglian, Southern, Thames water business and Wessex

iii. Based upon the volume of water your business uses:

Can I challenge my surface drainage charge?

Absolutely, the surface drainage charge will be calculated based on the data the wholesaler holds about your business property.

Through the AquaSwitch water audit process, we can test the accuracy of the data being used to calculate the surface drainage charge independently.

The water audit process has successfully found errors in the surface drainage charge that has resulted in savings of tens and thousands and historical rebates for past overcharging.

The AquaSwitch water audit is absolutely free of charge, we’ll only take a commission if we successfully arrange a historical rebate with a supplier.

Can I get a surface drainage rebate?

If the rainwater falling on your business premises does not flow into the sewerage system, you can make an application for a surface drainage rebate. The service drainage rebate is a reduction in the annual surface drainage fee.

The surface drainage rebate application is made to your local water supplier. It will need to include evidence that rainwater landing on your property does not make it into the sewerage system. Your business water supplier must assess your application and, if successful, will:

  • Reduce or eliminate your surface drainage charges
  • Give you a rebate for past surface drainage charges

The ease of application and the speed at which the application is processed varies significantly between suppliers.

Will switching water supplier change my surface drainage charge?

A simpler way to reduce the surface drainage charge is to find out how much if at all, other suppliers would charge for surface water drainage.

Deregulation in the British water market means that businesses can get a significant reduction in water charges by switch business water suppliers as well as benefiting from improved customer services. For more information, check out our guide on how to switch business water suppliers.

The AquaSwitch business water comparison service is absolutely free. Find out today if your business can benefit from reduced business water rates.

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