This section is from the book "The Principles And Practice Of Modern House-Construction", by G. Lister Sutcliffe. Also available from Amazon: How Your House Works: A Visual Guide to Understanding & Maintaining Your Home.
(9). Distinction between "Drain" and "Sewer". The word "drain" is defined by the Public Health Act, 1875. to mean any drain used for the drainage of one building only, or of premises within the same curtilage, for the purpose of draining into a cesspool or other receptacle, or into a sewer. Hence, as a rule, if a drain of one building join another, from the junction of the two drains the conduit is technically a "sewer". Indeed, in the case of Travis v. Uttley (70 T. L R. 242) the court seemed to extend the definition to even the portion of the drain before the junction. In districts where the authorities have adopted the Public Health Acts Amendment Act. Section 19, this definition does not precisely hold good; in such places, if two houses belong to different owners, the combined drain is a " drain" reparable at the owners' expense; if, on the contrary, the same person owns the two houses, the combined drain is a "sewer".
"Sewers" include drains and sewers of description, except drains to which the word "dram' interpreted as aforesaid applies, and except drains vested in and under the control of any authority having the management of raids, not being a Local Authority under the Public Health Act, 1875.
(10.) Duties and Powers of Local Authorities as to Sewers. With a few exceptions (see Public Health Act. 1875, § 13), all sewers vest in the Local Authority and are under its control, and the Authority is responsible faff their repair and maintenance. The Local Authority is bound to provide its district with sewers where necessary (Public Health Act, § 15). It may also purchase existing sewers or accept the gift of such sewers (ibid.,§ 14). Local Authorities have extensive powers with regard to laying sewers, and to entry on premises for the purpose of examining and repairing sewers, and ascertaining their course, and also with regard to preliminary examination of the course of a proposed sewer. They cannot, however, enter private lands for the purposes of making new sewers without permission, or without compensation, if such compensation is demanded.
The definite duties laid upon Local Authorities with regard to sewers appear to be at least four: -
1. To provide necessary sewers (Public Health Act, 1875, § 15).
2. To keep all sewers belonging to them in repair (ibid., § 15).
3. To construct, repair, cover, and ventilate their sewers in such a manner that they shall not be a nuisance or injurious to health (ibid., § 19).
4. To properly cleanse and empty their sewers (ibid.).
(11.) Right to the Use of Sewers. The owner or occupier of property in any district has a right of drainage into the sewers of that district (Public Health Act, 1875, § 21). If the sewer is in one district and the property in another, the house may be drained into the sewer by agreement with the Authority in whose district the sewer is situate.
(12.) Protection of Sewers. In Urban Districts it is unlawful to build over a sewer without the express permission of the Authority.
Districts may adopt Part III. of the Public Health Acta Amendment Act, 1890, Section 16, which makes it an offence for any person to throw or suffer to be thrown into any sewer, or into any drain communicating therewith, any matter or substance by which the free flow of the sewage or storm-water may be interfered with, or by which the drain or sewer may be injured. Section 17 further makes it an offence to permit to enter directly or indirectly into a sewer, chemical refuse, waste steam, condensing water, heated water, or other liquid of a higher temperature than 110° F., which, either alone or in combination with the sewage, causes a nuisance or is dangerous or injurious to health, nnder a maximum penalty of £10, and a maximum daily penalty of £5.
(13.) House-drainage. Every house in town and country must have a drain of sufficient capacity, discharging into any public sewer which extends within 100 feet of the house. If no such sewer exists, the drain must discharge into a cesspool, of into any other place, "not being under any boose",as the Loo*] Authority may direct. Drains are to he made of such materials and sizes, and to be laid at such levels and gradients, as the surveyor of the Local Authority may advise. If a house is without effectual drainage, it is the duty of the Authority to request the owner, by formal notice, to construct a suitable drain; in default of compliance, the Local Authority may do the work, and recover in a summary manner the expenses, or may by order declare them to be "private improvement expenses".
Should it he less expensive for the Local Authority to construct a new sewer to. receive the sewage of two or more houses than to compel the owners to drain them into existing sewers, they have power to do so, and to apportion the expense of the construction among the owners of the several houses, or they may. by order, declare the expenses to be "private improvement expenses" (Public Health Act, 1875, § 23).
(14.) Power to examine existing Drains. On the "written "application of any person to a Local Authority, stating that any drain or other thing is a nuisance or injurious to health, the Local Authority has power after twenty-four hours' notice to the occupier - or, in case of emergency, without notice - to enter the premises, open up the ground, and examine the drain. If no fault is found, all damage must be made good at the Authority's expense; if, on the contrary, the drain is found in bad condition or to require amendment, notice must be given to the occupier, calling on him to undertake the necessary repairs or renewals. Neglect to obey such notice involves a penalty of 10 shillings per day or less, and the Local Authority may forthwith do the work, end recover summarily the expenses, or declare them to be "private improvement expenses" (Public Health Act, 1875, § 41).
(15.) The Drains of New Houses. In an Urban District it is illegal to erect a house, or to rebuild one which has been pulled down to or below the ground-Hoor, without proper drainage, under a penalty of £50 or less. It is also unlawful to occupy a house if so constructed. (Public Health Act, 1875, § 25.)