Mairie said we are main drain connected - now Service Deau says we are not

We bought our house in 2008 - in reply to the Notaire’s questionnaire, the Mairie said we are on the ‘collectif’ for all drainage from the house. Now when we want to sell in 2020, the Service Eau says we are ‘probably’ not connected, and is demanding to know the whereabouts of our septic tank! We would not know where to find it any more than the Service Eau engineer. All we do know is that there is drain pipe in the cellar, pointing out into the garden, and that it has worked effortlessly for the last 12 years.
Needless to say this is throwing a huge spanner in the works of our sale.
Any advice?

Ground penetrating radar?

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Ask a neighbour? When we had fosse troubles and needed to find it, we asked our elderly neighbour. He knew everything. He came round and tapped decisively with his cane on the spot (a narrow alleyway between the house and a barn). Sure enough, there it was, ancient, not too deep, volume 1m3, and needless to say, in imperfect working order. We later sold the house. The price took into account that the new owners would need to install a new fosse.

Commonly known as a spade😁



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Thanks for the helpful advice - we will ask the neighbours and see if any can recall.
There is though the matter of the Mairie confirming the connection prior to purchase - surely they would have records of which houses connected and which didn’t at the time it was converted to a collectif drainage system? Or is this a bit hit and miss? My point here is that a) we should not be penalised by a mistake made by the Mairie, b) we have paid for collectif drainage charges for 12 years now. So something stinks so to speak!

Oh that’s a fair point!

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If you’ve never had to have the fosse emptied in twelve years Chris, I doubt there is one.

When we bought in '93 we were told by the agent that the fosse would never need emptying. Which was plainly wrong but it was around 15 years later when the toilet began to back up that it was obvious.

We were then told every 4 years by someone and we did have it done again 4 years later, but that was 8 years ago and we seem to have forgotten about it. :roll_eyes:

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thanks David and John
We are chasing up with the engineer to see what test he has done - presumably a dye test, Then we need to tackle the Mairie. The neighbour cannot recall anything unfortunately and the person we bought the house from has since died, so no history available.
We may have to swallow the unwelcome costs of connection but I hope the Mairie will at least allow us to connect free of charge. After all they were responsible for the problem and have taken connection charges from us for 12 years now.


Good luck Chris. I’ve found officialdom here pretty reasonable if approached correctly. They tend to start off grumpy and uncooperative but then mellow with a bit of cajoling.

My best example was when I tried to register a two month old car here and the tax people told me that because the car was less than six months old I’d have to pay TVA and claim the VAT back from HMRC. After a period of huffing and puffing with me using my most crestfallen expression they threw the registration papers back on the counter and told me to come back in four months :slightly_smiling_face:

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As I get older I do find I am mislaying things more often, but more on the scale of keys or glasses than a fosse :crazy_face:

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Hello John,
I will try cajoling - no point in threatening! Unless it is to dump the so far undiscovered contents of our septic tank on the steps of the Mairie. Now that sounds like a culturally appropriate protest.

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And in a fine French tradition. I seem to remember an episode of, was it Louis le Brocant (?), where a disgruntled farmer reversed his muck spreader up to the mairie and made it do what it did best. :laughing: :laughing:

Not just the French, my uncle drove the 4 hours to Canberra and dumped a huge lorry full of wheat in front of parliament house in protest of some usual government anti-farming shenanigans! :rofl: :rofl:

Our neighbours had their fosse emptied two years ago for the first time. They moved in around 1980!

A short update - the Service Eau has been out 3 times. They introduced colorant into the drains in the house but they cannot see any dye in the main drains, but they notice a slight increase in water volume in the main drain when the all taps are opened in the house. This leads them to believe that there is a fosse of some sort in between the house and the connection to the main drains! They have found a manhole on our property that should be connected to our house, but appears not to be. They are visiting again soon to hopefully solve the mystery. Bring back Inspector Clouseau - all is forgiven.

You need a sourcier.

Update! A contractor has poked a camera down and discovered a fosse - they have marked the spot and I now await the Devis for connecting to the manhole which is already installed on our land. So no need for the sourcier thanks! Next issue - will the Mairie dare charge me for me connecting when I have paid connection dues for the last 12 years…

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Another update - I have a devis now for Euros 1100 which seems very good value. To decommission the fosse and run a pipe to a manhole, then make connection.
Scheduled for January so progress!