Important notification
Important notification

Sewer blockages

Everything that goes down the kitchen, laundry and bathroom sink or that's flushed down the toilet ends up in the sewerage system.

Putting the wrong things down the sewer can cause damage to the system and may result in blockages.

Signs you have a blocked sewer

You may have a blocked sewer if:

  • your toilet isn’t flushing properly, or is draining slowly
  • your drains are gurgling
  • you notice a bad smell coming from your drains
  • sewerage is spilling from your pipes.

What to do when you have a blocked sewer

Step 1: Determine boundary of responsibility

If you experience a blockage, the first thing to do is to work out whether it’s in your property’s pipes or within our service network. This will help you determine who to call for help.

When is it your responsibility?

Generally, any pipes and infrastructure from your house up to the ‘point of connection’ in either your front lawn or backyard, is considered your responsibility.

When is it City West Water’s responsibility?

Generally, any pipes and infrastructure from the ‘point of connection’ in either your front lawn or backyard to the sewer main is considered our responsibility.

Sewer responsibilities diagram

Step 2: Fix the blockage

Once you know who is responsible for fixing the blockage, you can arrange for it to be fixed in the following ways:

When the blockage is your responsibility

If you have a slow draining toilet, sink or shower, the blockage is most likely in your property’s pipes so it’s best to call out a plumber to diagnose and fix the problem.

When the blockage is City West Water’s responsibility

If sewerage is spilling or you hear a bubbling sound from your fixtures, the blockage could be in our sewer system. Please call our Faults and Emergencies team on 132 642 to arrange an inspection by one of our maintenance team. If the blockage is our pipes, we will fix this and cover all reasonable costs.

Have you noticed sewerage spilling onto the ground?

Please stay away from any live sewerage spill. Contact our Faults and Emergencies line on 132 642 as soon as possible and we'll send out a maintenance team to inspect.

Sewer blockage FAQs

What if my plumber discovers that the blockage is within City West Water’s network? Will I be reimbursed?

If you’ve arranged for a plumber to investigate and they discover a blockage in our pipes, the plumber must report it to us so we can send our approved field members to fix it, they shouldn’t be working on our assets. By reporting it, your plumber may be eligible for a spotter’s fee (of $81.40). You may also be eligible for a full reimbursement of the plumber’s call-out fee (that you paid the plumber to attend the site, locate and identify the blockage) up to a maximum of $400.

For more details about how to make your claim, see the next FAQ.

What information/documentation do I need to provide for a compensation claim?

To make a claim, please email us the following information: 

  • first name 
  • City West Water account number (12 digits – you can find this in the top right-hand corner of your bill
  • a brief description of your claim details (eg, describe what occurred / what works were undertaken to resolve the blockage). 

In your email please attach a detailed plumber’s invoice, outlining the following: 

  • proof of payment made in full 
  • a breakdown of fees, including: 
    • CCTV 
    • call out fee’s 
    • cost of materials.  

Your email must be confirmation that the invoice has been paid and include a clear description of what happened on site before we can process a reimbursement claim. 

What works will not be considered for reimbursement?

Any works undertaken by the plumber to clear private pipes and or excavation works to find the inspection point or boundary trap will not be considered for reimbursement by City West Water.  

If you are the property owner, you’ll also need to pay for the costs of work where:  

  • the plumber didn’t refer the blockage to us 
  • all work carried out by the plumber relates to clearance and/or work on your pipes 
  • CCTV was used to determine a blockage location 
  • costs include the use of general accessories (eg machine hire) 
  • a high-pressure water jet cleaner was used 
  • cleared tree roots, or added chemicals to dissolve the blockage. 

Whilst works to fix the blockage are undertaken, are there any household activities that we should avoid?

Yes, please limit the amount of water that you use whilst works are completed. Try not to flush toilets and avoid using appliances that require water, such as washing machines and dishwashers. 

What are the main causes of blockages?

The main causes of blocked sewers are: 

  • tree roots  
  • fats (grease)  
  • wet wipes and facial tissues  
  • nappies  
  • non-biodegradable products (i.e. plastics) 
  • broken pipes  
  • medicines. 

I have a sewer manhole on my property - can I cover it?

No, you should not cover the manhole as sometimes City West Water may need access to maintain the sewer system and clear blockages from the network.  

Top tips for protecting your pipes 

1. Only flush the three P’s! Pee, poo and (toilet) paper. Find out more via our What to flush page.  

2. Think at the sink! Putting the wrong things down your sink can cause damage, follow these steps to help protect your pipes: 

  • collect cooled cooking oils and dispose in the bin  
  • wipe greasy pots and pans with paper towel before washing  
  • use a sink strainer to reduce the risk of a blocked sink or sewer  

3. Maintain tree, bushes and other plants close to the sewer line. Avoid planting vegetation near the pipes as tree roots can grow into the sewer and cause blockages.  

Information for plumbers 

Plumbers best practice

It is considered best practice for the plumber to insert the sewer cables into the property’s access point (Boundary Trap or Inspection shaft) and rod to around one meter past the boundary trap or inspection shaft. This activity should take no longer than one hour. If the property connection is still blocked at this point, the plumber must call our Faults and Emergencies team on 132 642.

When you suspect the blockage is on City West Water’s assets

If the blockage is in our pipes or you suspect it is, you must report this to our Faults and Emergencies on 132 642 as only CWW and our accredited contractors can carry out repairs on these assets.

You must not do any work on the blockage. You may be eligible for a ‘spotter’s fee’ for reporting the fault. If you would like to claim the ‘spotter’s fee’, you must provide documentation and details via email.

Plumber FAQs

I’m licensed plumber and have identified a blocked sewer, what do I need to do?

This all depends on where the blockage is located. The customer/property owner is responsible for internal sewer house connection pipes to the 27A. City West Water is responsible for the pipework from the 27A to the sewer main. 

What should I do if suspect the blockage is on City West Water’s assets?

If the blockage is in our pipes or you suspect it is, you must report this to our Faults and Emergencies on 132 642 as only City West Water accredited contractors can carry out repairs on these assets. You must not complete any work on a blockage in our assets. Under the Water Act 1989 s180 and 182, it is illegal to work on, enter or tamper with an asset belonging to a water authority. 

Plumbers may be eligible for a spotter’s fee for reporting the fault. If you would like to claim the Spotter’s fee, you must provide documentation and email our Faults team. After reviewing your claim you may receive a spotter’s fee of $81.40 (incl. GST) for reporting the fault. reviewing your claim you may receive a spotter’s fee of $81.40 (incl. GST) for reporting the fault. 

What should I do if the blockage is on customer’s pipes?

If the blockage is in the customers pipes, the customer is responsible for the repair and or associated costs for you to complete works. City West Water is not responsible for internal sewer connections to the 27A. 

What works will be considered for reimbursement?

Our process for reimbursing plumbing costs generally covers the fair and reasonable costs for the plumber to attend site, locate and identify the blockage.  

  • If a blockage is found to be within City West Water pipes, we will consider reasonable reimbursement costs. 
  • If you have charged the customer for plumbing costs associated with determining that the blockage was within City West Water’s pipes, the customer can make a claim for reimbursement.  

All relevant information is required for a claim, including details confirming the blockage is in our pipes. We will contact the plumber via phone and/or email to obtain additional information if required. 

What works won’t be considered for reimbursement?

Any works to clear customer’s pipes and/ or carry out excavation works to find the inspection shaft or boundary trap will not be considered for reimbursement. The customer is responsible for plumber’s costs in this instance.    

The customer/property owner will also need to pay for the cost of works where: 

  1. the plumber has not referred the blockage to City West Water 
  2. all work completed relates to clearance and/or work on the customer/property owners’ pipes 
  3. CCTV was used to determine a blockage location 
  4. costs include the use of equipment such as machines, plant, high-pressure waterjet etc. 
  5. tree roots were cleared, or chemicals added to dissolve the blockage. 

Need help locating sewer pipes?

You can obtain a Property Sewerage Plan displaying where the sewerage systems and any City West Water assets are located within any property in our service area. To request a Property Sewerage Plan, please contact CIS Services Pty Ltd on (03) 8849 9186

It is against the law, under the Water Act 1989 s180 and 182, to work on, enter or tamper with an asset belonging to a water authority. Therefore, it’s important that you contact us on Faults & Emergencies on 132 642 to identify where the asset and blockage is. 

Please note that there are statutory offences under the Water Act 1989 and the Road Management Act 2004 for damaging or interfering with City West Water’s assets and for building over or removing cover or support of our assets without prior written consent.  

In the event that damage is caused to our assets, please contact our Faults & Emergencies team on 132 642 to discuss further. 

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