Troubleshooting sewer issues

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We manage and maintain the wastewater system up to the connection point with your property, this is often near the property boundary.

The connection point is the vertical inspection shaft and any pipes or fittings between here and your property are your responsibility. 

Blockages

The main causes of sewer blockages are:

  • Flushable wipes and baby wipes – which really aren’t flushable
  • Fat and grease that solidifies in the pipes
  • Foreign objects like sanitary items and children’s toys
  • Tree roots that have broken into the pipes
  • Cracks or breaks in the pipes

If you can hear gurgling noises in your sink, or your basins are draining slowly, or there’s a bad smell coming from your sinks, or drains you might have a sewer block. You should check your vertical inspection shaft to see if it's blocked; this is usually near your property boundary.

If it's empty, the blockage is within your property boundary, and you’ll need to call a plumber. If the shaft is full or partly full, it’s likely there is a problem on our side of the network, so please call us directly on 6581 8111, or after hours on 6583 2225.

We don’t automatically honour a plumber’s bill for unblocking our sewer pipes if we haven’t authorised the work so if your plumber isn’t sure if the block is in our sewer pipes or yours, make sure you give us a call before they do any work. You can protect your home from a sewer blockage by:

  • Only flushing the 3P’s down the toilet – Poo, pee and (toilet) paper – everything else should be put in the bin
  • Putting food scraps, oil and cooking fats in the bin
  • Maintaining free access to any manholes, inspection shafts, overflow relief, gullies, and sewerage access points on your property
  • Not planting trees over the sewer pipes as the roots can get in as the trees grow. 

Surcharge or Overflow

A sewage overflow occurs at our Wastewater Treatment Plants when our storage limit exceeds capacity, either due to a major rain event. major equipment failure, or power outage. This results in partially treated or untreated sewage being released into the environment. Overflows are allowed under our Environment Protection Authority licences and are common across all Council areas, not just ours!

A sewage surcharge occurs when the sewerage system is overloaded. This results in untreated wastewater coming out of manholes and overflow relief gullies. A major cause of surcharges is stormwater entering the sewerage system. This occurs through:

  • Blockages in the pipes
  • Tree roots penetrating or breaking the pipes
  • Aging pipes and manholes (ours and yours)
  • Localised flooding
  • Illegal stormwater connections to the sewer system

Seweragr systems are designed to allow for some stormwater; but it's impractical to build infrastructure that can cope with an unlimited quantity and intensity of water. Our current systems are designed for our growing population, and we’re continuing to plan for our future.

If you see a sewer surcharge, please call us directly on 6581 8111 or after hours on 6583 2225.

Overflows and surcharges can have impacts on both public health and the environment. We report these events to a number of agencies including the NSW Environmental Protection Agency and NSW Health. We’re doing some Inflow and Infiltration testing to identify illegal stormwater connections and damaged infrastructure. This will help minimise the pressure on our sewerage system, reducing surcharges and the need to overflow. 

Odour

Sewer odours can come from a few different places – here are some things to consider when you’re reporting an odour issue:

  • If there’s a sewerage blockage within your property, you’ll need to call a plumber
  • Wetlands or mangrove areas can create similar smells at different times of the year
  • Blocked or inefficient drainage

We’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve to control sewage odours but if you’ve got a complaint about odour we want to hear it. Let us know the details by reporting a sewer issue.