When pipes leak water and sewage
Drainage issues can cause serious problems if they are not addressed. The issues may arise when used water that normally goes down sinks, toilets and drains starts leaking from a pipe. People can get very sick if exposed to raw sewage as it contains harmful bacteria.
Property owners are responsible for the water pipes connected to their place, including those that are shared with neighbours. This is regardless of where the pipes are located on the land. While disputes can sometimes take place, the City of Sydney encourages neighbours to share the cost of repair when pipes suffer from drainage problems.
Carrying out drainage work
Only a licensed plumber can carry out drainage inspections and maintenance.
When to contact a plumber
Many underground pipe issues are noticed when there is a blockage somewhere in the property. Blockages must be cleared before drainage problems are investigated. Contact a plumber if you notice:
- a sink overflowing
- waste coming out of an inspection chamber (used for sewer access by inspectors)
- a toilet emptying very slowly
- a foul smell that doesn’t go away
- dirty water, toilet paper or sewage coming up on to land
- water escaping from an underground pipe and washing away soil.
Repeated blockings may be the sign of damaged pipes that need to be repaired. Speak to your plumber about your concerns.
The City’s role
If you are concerned that your neighbours are not helping to have a drainage problem fixed, the City can intervene. We will investigate complaints about private drainage that are not resolved by building owners. The City has the power to issue a property owner with an emergency order to fix a problem immediately.
Under law, the City also has the power to issue a prevention notice that will require an occupier or person using the pipes to take specific steps to solve drainage issues, such as a plumber’s report or the repair of damaged pipes.
Mains sewers are the responsibility of Sydney Water. You can obtain copies of drainage plans from Sydney Water to see who shares certain sections of the pipe network.
You should contact Sydney Water immediately if you notice sewage is coming from a manhole cover on the road or footpath.
City of Sydney
Health and Building Unit
02 9265 9333
Last updated: Friday, 26 April 2013