Bondi residents help reduce sewer overflows

Jul 09, 2009

Bondi residents are helping protect local waterways and reduce sewer overflows in the beachside suburb by removing tree roots from their private sewerage pipes. Sydney Water Managing Director Kerry Schott thanked Bondi residents for their positive response to a recent trial that identified tree roots entering the public sewerage system from privately-owned pipes.

"Sydney Water contacted about 30 Bondi households in recent months to alert them that tree roots in their private sewerage pipes were affecting the public sewers," Dr Schott said.

"Residents have responded very positively, with two thirds of residents taking action to clear the roots from their sewers. Waverley Council has also responded well to the trial, clearing street tree roots from privately owned sewers."

Dr Schott said tree roots entering public sewers from privately-owned pipes could cause sewage to build up and overflow into the environment, potentially reaching waterways such as Bondi Beach.

"Sydney Water estimates that about 40 per cent of the dry-weather sewer overflows from the public sewerage system that reach waterways are caused by tree roots that have entered from private sewers," Dr Schott said.

"While Sydney Water has a four-year $560 million maintenance program for its 24,000-kilometre network of sewerage pipes, there is about another 22,000 kilometres of privately-owned sewerage pipes connecting homes to Sydney Water’s network.

"These privately-owned sewerage pipes have a big impact on the performance of the entire sewerage system and property owners may be unaware that they own – and are responsible for maintaining – these pipes.

"Keeping private sewer pipes in good condition and clear of tree roots and other debris can reduce dry-weather sewer overflows affecting waterways across greater Sydney by about 40 per cent."

Dr Schott said residents could help reduce the risk of sewage overflows by having their sewerage pipes cleaned by a licensed plumber every couple of years and by making informed choices when planting around their sewerage pipes.

"Regular maintenance is less costly than emergency repairs and will also help prevent future problems – much like a regular check-up at the dentist," Dr Schott said.

"Planting trees an appropriate distance from their sewerage pipes and avoiding planting certain species of trees will also help avoid future blockages."

Sydney Water
PO Box 399
Parramatta NSW 2124

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