RESPONSIBILITY for thousands of miles of sewer pipes has changed.

Last Saturday, Yorkshire Water adopted almost 14,000 miles (22,000 km) of private sewer pipes after new Government legislation came into force.

The national change means sewers and drains on private property are now repaired by water companies.

The change could mean water bills will rise and the move has also affected local councils who were responsible for maintaining pipes for hundreds of local authority properties – causing fears of public sector job losses.

Kirklees Council said it was working with Yorkshire Water to implement the changes but said it was too early to know if any job losses were imminent.

A spokeswoman for Yorkshire Water said they had taken on extra staff to tackle the new responsibility but said there were no Kirklees Council workers involved in sewer and pipe maintenance full-time and so they had not been liable to employ them.

Darroch Baker, project manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “We believe the transfer is good news for our customers as it brings clarity over what has always been a very confusing issue.

“We have lots of information on our website where customers can find out which sections of pipe will be transferring to us and if they are currently experiencing a problem on a part of pipe they believe to be our responsibility then they should get in touch with us in the usual way.”

The transfer means customers will no longer have to pay for costly repairs to public highways if problems occur on pipes running beneath their homes.

Likewise, pipes that are the shared responsibility of homeowners will now become Yorkshire Water’s responsibility.

The government estimates that because water companies will be taking on responsibility for thousands of kilometres of extra pipes which involves, in some cases, pipe replacement, repair and ongoing maintenance, water bills could increase between £3 to £14 per year for an average water bill.

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