Property Clinic: Your questions and queries answered
It’s best to route water pipes from your property directly to the surface water sewer in the public road.
l recently built a garage to the rear of my property. Since then the local authority have stipulated that I need to connect the run-off water into a water pipe that goes in front of our site. Our neighbours are not happy, and said that we cannot do this because the pipe goes under a piece of grass that they maintain [it is the bit between their hedge and the public road]. I would rather not have a lengthy legal battle with them but equally I have to drain the water from the yard area around the shed or my yard will flood. Can they stop me accessing the pipe as that lies outside of our hedges at the front of our properties?
You indicate that the existing pipe lies outside of your hedges at the front of your properties. It appears that the hedges form the boundaries between your respective properties and the public road, and that this is a standard situation where the pipe, which is a surface (storm) water sewer, runs under the footpath or grass verge outside your properties.
The grass verge and footpath are part of the public road, and would, therefore, be in the charge of the local authority. The surface water sewer contained in the public road is likely to be also in the charge of the local authority. If it is a combined sewer, i.e. draining surface water and waste water, you will need to verify if Irish Water is the responsible authority.
There is no reason why you cannot connect your surface water drainage directly to the public surface water sewer subject to the required local authority permits and conditions. The maintenance by your neighbour of a piece of grass that is in the charge of the local authority does not give your neighbour rights over it.
You should first check with the local authority to determine the precise extent of the public road that is in its charge. If it transpires that the strip of grass is not part of the public road and not in the charge of the local authority, you may be able to determine its ownership by consulting the Land Registry or its website Landdirect.ie
It is possible that it may still be in the ownership of the developer or original landowner. If it’s not registered its ownership will be more difficult to determine. In such case you should consult your solicitor who may engage a legal searcher.
It is preferable, however, that you avoid involvement with a third party if possible by routing the pipe from your property directly to the surface water sewer in the public road through a point where your property adjoins the public road.
The connection to the public surface water sewer should be carried out by a competent person, and be approved by the local authority’s area engineer. Grass and paved surfaces in the public area should be properly reinstated after the connection is made. This will enable good relationships to be maintained with all parties.
Patrick Shine is a chartered geomatics surveyor, a chartered civil engineer and a member of scsi.ie