Dispose of waste properly to protect the environment and prevent sewer blockages and spills.
Sewage includes everything that goes down the kitchen, laundry and bathroom sinks, as well as everything you flush down the toilet.
We operate 10 sewage treatment plants and sewerage systems. A sewerage system consists of small pipes that join into increasingly larger ones, eventually becoming the mains that enter the treatment plant.
The treatment plant treats the sewage so it can be reused or recycled in an environmentally safe and sustainable way. The treatment standard is determined by the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).
Putting the wrong thing down the drain can make it a lot more expensive to treat sewage to an acceptable standard. This cost is reflected in the sewerage service charge billed to customers. See Charges and tariffs.
What can and can’t go down the drain
The sorts of things you put down your sink or flush down your toilet can have a big impact on the environment, our systems and on the costs of treating sewage. We all have a part to play to dispose of waste thoughtfully.
What to flush
Only flush the 3 Ps down your toilet:
- (toilet) paper.
Everything else should go in the bin.
What not to flush
Help us prevent blockages. Don’t flush any of these things down your toilet, sink, or drain:
- wet wipes (even products marketed as ‘flushable’)
- paper towels or face tissues
- cotton buds, nappies, condoms, tampons, pads or their wrappers
- non-biodegradable products
What should not go down the drain
- fats, oils or food scraps
- motor oils or paints
- non-biodegradable products
- pesticides, solvents, aerosols or disinfectants.
How to dispose of waste
Your council’s website will have information on waste and recycling services offered in your area.
We also suggest you follow these handy hints:
- Use a sink strainer to prevent food scraps and other household waste from going down the drain.
- Pour kitchen fats and oils into a container; seal it and throw it in the bin.
- Wipe greasy pots and pans with a paper towel before washing.
- Use less detergent. The average household uses three times more detergent than manufacturers recommend.
- Choose a washing detergent with a low salt content. Concentrated detergents often contain much less salt than conventional varieties.
- Ask your local pharmacy or council for advice on how to dispose of medicines and hazardous chemicals.
Tree roots and blockages
Keep in mind that tree roots can also cause sewer blockages. You can do your bit by choosing your trees carefully and planting them away from sewer pipes.
If there’s a sewage spill on your property caused by a fault or blockage that is our responsibility – for example, in pipes outside your property boundary – we will send someone out to clear the blockage and clean up external spills at no cost to you.
If there’s a sewage spill inside your home because of a non-compliant overflow relief gully (ORG), we may not assist in clean-up or repairs of any damage this causes.
Overflow relief gully
An overflow relief gully (ORG) is a drain located outside a property that allows sewage to overflow if there’s a pipe blockage. It’s designed to protect the interior of the home.
To function properly, an ORG must:
- be fitted with a grate that can pop off completely
- have a clear drainage path away from the dwelling
- not be covered or obstructed in any way, including by objects, landscaping, paving or home extensions
- not be connected to stormwater downpipes.
Property owners are responsible for making sure their home is fitted with a properly designed and operational ORG as required by the national standard for plumbing and drainage, AS/NZS 3500.