Step 1: You

1. Is the issue on public land?

For issues on your property, call a plumber.

2. Is a major overflow occurring?

If water is gushing out of a manhole, call us immediately on 07 838 6699.

Step 2: You

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Step 3: Council

1. We investigate the issue.

2. We organise staff, parts and equipment.

3. We repair or resolve the issue.

4. If required, we restore the footpath, grassed area or road.

This may be up to a few weeks after the issue has been repaired.


Why is there a leak?

Leaks can often be caused by root intrusion into underground pipes – as trees grow, their roots can find their way into wastewater and stormwater pipes through joints (especially in older pipes) and block them, or simply displace a pipe and cause it to burst.

Root damage can also create gaps and holes, allowing ground and surface water to enter. During heavy rain, this extra water can overload the piped networks and cause overflows into your backyard, streets and nearby waterways.

Why is there an overflow?

Stormwater blockages are mostly caused by debris like leaves, dirt, pebbles, sand, sticks, bark and mulch entering the stormwater pipes through roadside drains.

Most wastewater blockages are caused by people flushing things down the toilet or sink that they shouldn't, like fats, oils and wet wipes.

When an accumulation of such materials blocks liquid from passing through a pipe, the incoming wastewater or stormwater backs up behind the blockage and has to eventually come out somewhere – such as manholes, drains and gully traps.

The stormwater system can also overflow during heavy rain, when the volume of water entering the piped system in a short period of time is larger than the network can accommodate. This is called “surcharging.”

TIP: Only human waste and toilet paper should be flushed down the toilet. Everything else – including things such as wet wipes, sanitary products, dental floss and nappies, and fat, oil and grease from cooking – should be put in the bin.

But it says on the wet-wipes packet that they are flushable?

While many brands of wipes are marketed and labelled as ‘flushable,’ they contain plastic and other non-woven fibres. These fibres don’t break down in the same way that toilet paper does, so they collect and clog up the city’s pipes and pumps.

TIP: Throwing wipes and other items in the rubbish, rather than flushing them down the toilet, can help to prevent blockages and in turn, protect our environment.

Why can’t Council tell where overflows are happening?

There are over 130 wastewater pumping stations across the city which are remotely monitored by engineering staff – the monitoring system alerts staff when issues such as pump faults and power outages occur, and these are usually addressed before causing an overflow. However, there are over 1,500 km of wastewater and stormwater pipes across the city where blockages and other faults could occur, so we appreciate the public’s help in identifying problems.

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Last updated 27 May 2024