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Water and Sewage Business Rates

Businesses get charged for the water they use and for any liquid waste (effluent) they produce. Check how the charges for water and sewage business rates work in the United Kingdom.

Difference between Sewage and Sewerage

The liquid waste matter, or effluent, that flows away through a system of sewer drains and pipes is sewage.

Whereas, the physical facilities used to drain sewage away is sewerage. As a rule, it would include a system of lift stations, pipes, and treatment and disposal facilities.

Business Water Rates

The water supplier will charge your business if you use water at the premises. There will also be another fee for the drainage of wastewater and effluent (liquid waste) away from the premises.

How Businesses get Charged for Water Usage

There are two main ways that a water supplier charges for business water rates:

  • Businesses with a water meter get charged for the amount of water that they use, plus an extra set charge.
  • Some business get charged a set amount instead, which is often based on the value of the property.
Large User Tariff

Often, it is less expensive for water companies to supply water to large businesses. Thus, some will qualify to get a large user tariff from their supplier.

Note: The economic regulator of the water sector in England and Wales is Ofwat (Office of Water Services). But, different water and sewage regulators operate in Scotland (Water Industry Commission for Scotland) and the (Utility Regulator) in Northern Ireland.

Sewerage, Sewage, and Effluent

The water supplier makes a charge for any ‘foul sewerage’ and drainage from the business premises. In most cases, this refers to wastewater from a toilet or from a kitchen. As a rule, the sewerage charge relates to how much water the property uses.

If the business produces any liquid waste (e.g. effluent) there will also be a charge for that too. Effluent is not the same as normal water. For example, effluent would refer to water contaminated with other materials such as:

  • Chemical substances
  • Fats, grease, and oils
  • Food waste

Several factors determine the amount that the water supplier will charge. As a rule, the amount of effluent you produce, and its strength before reaching the sewer, will affect the charge rates.

Note: Some water suppliers itemise sewerage charges on the business water rates bill. But, it can also appear on the effluent bill instead – depending on the supplier.

Choosing the Supplier of Water or Sewerage Services

The location of your business will determine whether you can choose your water and sewerage service provider – and how.

How Water and Sewerage Rates Work for Businesses in the United Kingdom