Building over an easement

You can save both time and money by learning about building near or over easements/assets.

Easements ExplanationWhat is an easement?

An easement is a section of land registered on your property title which gives another party the right to use the land for a specific purpose, even though they are not the land owner.

In terms of City West Water assets, an easement would relate to sections of private property that have a water main or sewerage pipe running through them.

Because we will occasionally need access to the easement to make repairs or maintain the pipes you will need to take this into consideration when planning to build.

Building over a maintenance hole or water or sewer main prevents access by our contractors and staff. It can also be dangerous – for example, building a habitable dwelling over a sewer main that has the potential to release gases. 


Applying for permission to build over an easement or near a water or sewer asset

If you are building over an easement that is the responsibility of City West Water, or within one metre of a City West Water asset, prior approval must be granted by City West Water.

Works can only commence after receiving City West Water’s written consent to proceed.

Failure to obtain City West Water’s approval is an offence under the Water Act 1989. Penalties may apply. The property owner may also be faced with the costs of removing the structure and any associated damages resulting from unauthorised structures.

Visit Property+ and apply online to build over an easement or near an asset.

The Build over Easement Guidelines

The Build over Easement guidelines have been created to provide an outline of the requirements which need to be considered when planning to construct works over the Water Authority’s easement or within one metre of sewer and/or water assets.

You can use the guidelines for a more comprehensive overview of our requirements.

If you have any comments or feedback about the Guidelines, please contact Connections and Faults at or 1300 299 228.


Guidelines download

We need to access our sewer and water assets

We require 24 hour access to all sewer and water assets. A structure located over a sewer asset can delay being able to repair or maintain the sewer, impacting our services to customers.

Water mains are a pressured pipe and require 24 hour access to be able to shut off, repair and/or maintain the pipe. A water main burst can cause serious damage to property. City West Water does not permit a structure over a water main.


Maintenance holes need to be clear too

Maintenance holes are circular or rectangular concrete or metal lids and are usually located in the middle or side of the street, right of ways or on easements within private property. We access the sewer mains via maintenance holes.

City West Water requires a one metre unobstructed clearance around the maintenance hole to allow our maintenance crew to slide the lid open and access the maintenance hole safely.


Planting over an Easement

It is important to think carefully about the type of plants that you place over and near an easement. Many plants have the potential to cause problems for the pipes buried underneath.

Trees, in particular, have extensive root systems that can infiltrate pipes. Tree roots seek out moisture and nutrients, which are both contained in drainage and sewerage pipes.

A small fracture in a pipe is all that a root needs to find its way in and spread. Roots growing in a pipe can slow the flow rate and can cause blockages or damage the pipe.

If a tree has caused damage to a pipe, it will need to be professionally removed and maintenance crews may need to dig up the entire garden located over an easement in order to install or repair it.

There are a number of plants that can safely be planted on and near an easement that won’t upset the drainage system. In general, groundcovers, climbers, grasses and small shrubs do not have deep root systems that can damage pipes.


Frequently Asked Questions


Is lodging a Build over Easement application regarded as an approval to build?

No. City West Water will need to assess your proposed plans to ensure they comply with the Build over Easement guidelines. Amendments to your plans may be required. An approval will only be issued once all our requirements have been met.

An encumbrance will be recorded on the property, informing any future owner of the property of the existence of the build over easement agreement/approval.

This information can be provided by completing a Sewer Details Asset Information application.

For information on other utilities such as stormwater drains, underground electricity, gas or telecommunications, please contact the appropriate utility provider.

I am proposing to do somelandscaping over a sewerage easement. Do I need to submit a Build over Easement application?

Yes. But only if you are building a structure, e.g. a retaining wall or a garden bed (greater than 300mm high) or placing a fill/site cut greater than 300mm over an easement. 

What do I need to include when submitting a Build over Easement application?

You are required to submit a PDF copy of the full set of architectural and engineering drawings showing all structures and all offsets to all boundaries. Footing details must be provided. Please note that preliminary drawings will not be approved. 

I am proposing to install a small garden shed over the easement that I have purchased from a hardware store. I do not have any architectural plans for it. What details do I need to provide you?

If you have purchased a small DIY garden shed and placing it over the easement, you will need to supply City West Water with a site plan showing where the shed is going to be located. This should include offsets from title boundaries, the shed size (L x W x H) and the type of footing required, eg. 100mm paving slab. We will also need a copy of the shed pamphlet/catalogue. 

Why does my footing depth need to achieve angle of repose?

Angle of Repose is the line of influence from the sewer pipe. Generally an angle of 45 degrees taken from the edge of pipe.

If your proposed structure is considered a heavy structure i.e. brick garage, you are required to deepen the footings to achieve angle of repose in relation to the sewer pipe depth.

Angle of repose is required to protect your structure from subsiding and/or being undermined if maintenance works are required to the sewer main. By having deepened footings below the zone of influence it ensures the structure is self-supporting.

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