South East Water is committed to the delivery of quality sewerage services to meet the health and hygiene needs of our community, now and in the future.
Melbourne has a robust sewerage network which is designed to national standards, with extra capacity for stormwater that enters the system during normal seasonal wet weather.
Impact of heavy rain
On rare occasions in extreme wet weather the stormwater system can be overloaded and stormwater can run into the sewer network.
When this event occurs the sewer is designed to prevent sewage entering people’s homes. This is achieved by using emergency control points, strategically placed to have the least impact on the environment, to discharge the highly diluted overflow into streams and waterways. Given how diluted such discharges are, the practical impact on waterways health is extremely low.
Whenever we have heavy rain there is an impact on our waterways, primarily from material washed off hard surfaces such as roads and streets. Additionally, items such as hypodermic needles and broken glass can be picked up in floodwaters and present a hazard. Direct contact with floodwaters, for a minimum of 48 hours, is therefore not recommended after heavy rain.
South East Water has put a number of strategies in place to meet the needs of our customers, community and the environment by alleviating the impact of emergency overflow include:
- investing $100 million in sewer renewal works over the next five years to maintain our existing network and ensure EPA standards for sewerage system containment of flows associated with a 1-in-5 year rainfall event are met
- monitoring all sewer system pumping stations, emergency relief structures and over 100 sewer manholes and sewer points 24 hours a day to provide early warning of potential spills and allow for quick response
- operating a greasy waste management program to reduce the volume of grease and fat that may block the sewerage system
- inspecting the network of sewer pipes for blockages on a regular basis.
Last year South East Water recorded the lowest rate of sewage overflows reported to the EPA across major water utilities nationally.