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Sewerage and recycled water

Your sewage is piped to one of the city's four sewage treatment plants and treated to a high grade recycled water which can be used for non-drinking purposes.

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Protecting your home from a sewage blockage and overflow

Did you know more than 145 million litres of sewage is produced across our city each day? Most of us don't give a second thought to the pipes on our property, but we should if we don't want sewage flowing through our homes!

Sewerage systems are designed to transport sewage from residential, commercial and industrial areas. Our system can become overloaded or blocked for a number of reasons such as wet wipes, tree roots, fats, oils and foreign matter. This can lead to a sewage blockage and cause overflows that can be costly to clean up and cause environmental harm to our creeks and waterways.

You can protect your home by being aware of what can and cannot go down your sink or toilets.

Open IO

If there is a sewer blockage on your property, please locate the inspection outlet (IO) closest to your front or back property line and check if it is holding liquid. If you can see liquid inside the IO shaft, it is likely a blockage in the City of Gold Coast infrastructure, so please call us on 1300 000 928. If the shaft is dry inside, you may have a blockage within your property sewer pipes. Please contact a licensed plumber for advice and a quote for repairs.

For further details, please see the drop down menu below.

Think at the sink

If you wash oils and food scraps down the sink you run the risk of this foreign matter sticking together and causing a blockage within the pipes of your home, requiring repairs by a qualified plumber. Think at the sink.

By taking care of how you dispose of waste items, you can limit unnecessary damage to the sewerage system and the environment.

The table below provides detailed information on problem items and the correct disposal method.

Problem items Disposal method
Nappies, razors, rags, wipes, cotton buds Place in the garbage collection bin.
Cooking oil/grease Residential - place in sealed container and put in the rubbish bin or take to one of the City's waste transfer stations. Commercial - take to your local City waste transfer station.
Chemicals (such as paint, cleaning products, pesticides, weed killers) Give to a licensed hazardous waste contractor for proper disposal or contact the City on 1300 000 928 for advice.
Food waste Install a sink strainer, place in compost bin or feed to chickens or worm farms if you have them. Otherwise place in the rubbish bin.
Newspaper/plastics Put in the recycling bin ready for collection.
Unused medicines Return to your local chemist.
Engine oils Put in a plastic container and take to your local waste and recycling centre.

If you suspect there is a sewer blockage, call a qualified plumber to have the blockage cleared.

Hazardous waste drop off points

Residents can drop off household hazardous waste such as bleach, oven cleaners, mineral turpentine, fuel, herbicides, pool chlorine and paints to the Helensvale and Merrimac community waste and recycling centres throughout the year. Visit our Recycling household hazardous waste page for information about the recycling or treatment of household hazardous wastes.

Don't block your pipes, bin those wipes

Did you know that 'flushable wipes' do not break down in the sewerage system? They may flush away from view but are not bio-degradable like toilet paper. Wipes clump together and cause significant blockages, which may result in a sewage overflow in your neighbourhood and possibly cause damage to pumps. If this happens your suburb's sewerage system needs to be shut down for repairs.

Regardless of what the packaging says, please always bin your wipes.

Hot tip - locate your overflow relief gully

Know where your overflow relief gully (ORG) is located on your property. The ORG is the drain-like feature with a grated lid that can be found in the ground outside your home.

Check the grate is loosely fitted and that no pot plant, tiling or paving is covering it. The ORG will direct sewage overflows outside your home if a blockage occurs.

For further information see our Overflow Relief Gully fact sheet.

What do I do if my property sewer pipes are blocked?

If your property sewer pipes are blocked, the problem could be either in the property’s private sewer pipes or in the City’s receiving sewer pipes. Please follow these steps to help fix a blockage:

  • If you can locate your inspection opening or outlet (IO) closest to your front or back property line, and if it safe to do so, open it to check and see if the IO shaft is holding liquid.
    • If the IO shaft is holding liquid, there is a good chance there is a sewer blockage in our infrastructure. Please call us on 1300 000 928.
    • If, however, the drain is dry inside your IO, you may have a blockage on your property. You will need to call a licensed plumber for advice and a quote for repairs.
  • Should you be unfamiliar with the location of your IO or unable to access it, in the first instance, you should engage a qualified plumber to identify the location and cause of the blockage.

For a referral to a licensed plumber, please contact the Master Plumbers’ Association of Queensland on 07 3273 0800 (8am to 5pm weekdays). We recommend that you confirm that the engaged plumber has Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) capabilities to best inspect the sewerage infrastructure.

If the plumber identifies that the blockage is in the City’s sewer pipes, then they must contact our Customer Contact Centre on 1300 000 928 and follow due process so they may be paid for their services by the City. For further information please see Guidelines for plumbers seeking payment factsheet.

Please note that locating an IO, installation of a new IO, excavation of your existing IO, or works to raise your IO to ground level are your responsibility as the property owner, irrespective of whether a blockage was within yours or the City’s sewerage infrastructure.

Hot tip - locate your inspection opening

Inspection openings or outlets (IO) are important points in the sewerage infrastructure and are installed to enable access to your underground sewer pipes in the event of a blockage. An IO to ground level (surface) is connected to a shaft from the underground sewer pipe and allows you to see if the sewerage system is holding liquid at that particular point.

You should be aware of where your IOs are located as you are responsible for maintaining them and ensuring they are unobstructed and easily accessible. An IO is typically located approximately two metres from the front or back of your property boundary line.

An IO to surface is normally identified by a flat PVC round disk approximately 180 millimetres in diameter and there may be several, or none, located on your property. For older properties, you may not have an IO to surface.

If you cannot find an IO to surface on your property, we recommend the following steps:

  • Lodge a search request form for sewerage infrastructure drawings for the location of your sewer connections .
  • Once locating an underground connection point on your property plans, engage a licensed plumber and have an IO installed on your property.

Having an easily accessible IO to surface on your property can help in:

  • determining whether a blockage is coming from your property or the City’s sewerage infrastructure
  • reducing overflows
  • preventing costly repairs or clean-ups.

Please note that locating an IO, installation of a new IO, excavation of your existing IO, or works to raise your IO to ground level are your responsibility as the property owner, irrespective of whether a blockage was within yours or the City’s sewerage infrastructure.

Our responsibility - Your responsibility

Each property that receives a sewer service from the City of Gold Coast has a connection to the sewer main. The first connection point from the sewer main to the property is the demarcation point for the different areas of responsibility. This connection point is typically located approximately two metres from the front or back of your property boundary line.

The City is responsible for repairing and maintaining all sewerage infrastructure up to the first connection point of the property.

The property owner is responsible for maintaining and repairing the entire sewerage infrastructure inside the property from the first connection point. This includes:

  • repairing or replacing broken or cracked pipes
  • maintaining the property’s IOs and shafts, and keeping these unobstructed
  • ensuring that stormwater is not connected to the sewerage system
  • any costs associated with maintaining the internal property sewerage infrastructure.

Similarly, the installation of an new IO, excavation of your existing IO, or works to raise your IO to ground level are your responsibility as the property owner, irrespective of whether a blockage was within yours or the City’s sewerage infrastructure.

The City’s demarcation point for area of responsibility is in line with SEQ Water Supply and Sewerage Design and Construction Code SEQ-SEW-1105-1. For more information, please visit http://www.seqcode.com.au/.

Signs of a sewer blockage

A sewer blockage occurs in a sewer pipe when there’s something inside the pipe that stops it working properly. Signs of a blockage can be:

  • slow drainage in your toilet, sink, shower or bath
  • gurgling noises from your drains
  • strong odour
  • sewage overflow in your home, or through your overflow relief gully (ORG) in your yard.

Blockages are usually caused:

  • by tree roots that have found a way into the pipes
  • when a foreign object is put down a drain, such as wet wipes, sanitary items, or children’s toys
  • by cracks or breaks in the pipework.

Who can make a sewer blockage claim and how?

You can claim for reasonable expenses if you’re a:

  • licensed plumber and have identified a blockage in the City’s sewerage infrastructure
  • customer and have paid a licensed plumber who identified a blockage in the City’s sewerage infrastructure and the City has taken responsibility.

Plumber reimbursement process
If you are a licensed plumber who's identified a situation as a City issue or problem, call us on 1300 000 928 and follow the process to make a claim for identification services. For details, please see our Guidelines for plumbers seeking payment and complete a ‘Plumbers payment claim form,’ supplied by a City officer.

Customer reimbursement process
If you’ve paid the plumber already, the plumber identified the blockage is on the City’s infrastructure and the City has accepted responsibility, please follow the steps below and you may be reimbursed for a portion or all of the work.

Please note that the City will not reimburse plumbers or customers for works undertaken on the City’s infrastructure.

To make a claim as a customer, please email or post the original licensed plumber’s invoice and timesheet along with a brief summary of the situation to us at mail@goldcoast.qld.gov.au or mail us at City of Gold Coast, PO Box 5042, Gold Coast MC 9729.

If you engage a plumber, make sure they are licensed, have the appropriate equipment to fix sewer blockages, and that they are aware of the City’s Guidelines for plumbers seeking payment.

Should you have any questions, please call our Customer Contact Centre on 1300 000 928.

Related information

Jump to key information
  • How do I know if there is a blockage in my sewer system?

    A blockage will cause problems such as slow draining in the sinks and showers, the toilet may be holding water, or an overflow may be occurring from your floor waste or external plumbing fitting.

  • How do I know if the sewer blockage is my responsibility?

    A licensed plumber will be able to determine if the sewer blockage is the responsibility of the property owner.

  • How do I clear the blockage?

    Contact a licensed plumber to clear the blockage affecting your residence.

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