Learn about sewerage



What to do if you have a blocked sewer?


Please contact our Faults and Emergencies team 24 hours a day on 13 28 12 if one of your pipes is blocked. If you’ve had sewer issues in the past we’ll send out a crew to look at it at no cost to you. If it’s not clear where the blockage is, you may choose to get your own plumber or you can call South East Water Priority Plumbing on 1300 760 306. It’s up to you. If you choose to use Priority Plumbing you won’t pay anything for clearing the blockage if they discover the blockage is in at a section of pipe owned by South East Water. If there’s is no history of previous sewer issues on your property, or it’s unclear where the blockage is, you’ll need to organise a plumber to come out and assess the situation. Your plumber can use our SEWmap app to identify current water and sewer locations.

Who's responsible for blockages in your pipes?


We’ll repair blockages if they’re between the sewer main in your street and your property’s connection point. If the blockage is in your property’s pipes, you’re responsible for the repair costs. You’ll need to organise a plumber to fix the pipe blockage, or contact us to let us know if they identify that the blockage is in our pipes. You can book a plumber from South East Water Priority Plumbing on 1300 760 306 or you can engage a plumber of your choice to investigate the blockage. Whoever you choose, it’s important that your plumber follows our best practice to determine the location of the blockage. If the plumber invoices you for their time, we might be able to reimburse you for any reasonable costs associated with a plumber’s call out fee (depending on the situation). If your plumber has charged you for plumbing costs associated with determining where the blockage was you may make a claim for us to reimburse you.
To make a plumbing claim:
  1. Include the required documentation and email the form to plumbingclaims@sew.com.au

What's best practice?


Our process for reimbursing plumbing costs usually covers the fair and reasonable costs for the plumber to attend site, locate and identify the blockage. We consider it best practice for a plumber to insert the sewer cables into the property’s access point (Boundary Trap) and rod to South East Water’s point. The plumber can determine the point by the length of the rods/cables that they insert into the access point. If the property connection is still blocked at this point, your plumber can then call through to our Faults and Emergencies team on 13 28 12. In these circumstance we’ll review the details and reimburse fair and reasonable costs via EFT. We’ll need all the information before we can do this, as well as details to confirm the blockage is in our pipes. We’ll call or email you to get additional information if it’s required.

There are some things we don't pay for


Please be aware that you’ll need to pay your plumber’s costs to clear your own pipes or digs to find your inspection point or boundary trap.

If you’re the property owner, you’ll also need to pay for the cost of works where:
  • the plumber didn’t refer the blockage to us
  • all work carried out by the plumber relates to clearance and/or work on your pipes
  • CCTV was used to determine a blockage location
  • costs include use of general accessories (machine hire, for example)
  • a high pressure water jet cleaner was used
  • Cleared tree roots, or added chemicals to dissolve the blockage
Tree roots can often be the cause of sewer blockages. If you have a history of tree roots causing blockages at your property, contact South East Water when you have a blockage. Also consider having tree removed or contact the council to have the tree removed. See this link for more information .


Learn more about what to do if you have a blocked sewer or pipe.


Why are sewerage systems important?


Melbourne enjoys a world class sewerage system that is central to preserving the health of our community and environment. Water authorities like South East Water operate and maintain reliable sewerage systems that safely collect and transfer sewage to treatment plants.

South East Water manages a sewerage network that is made up of 9,868 kilometres of pipeline, 259 sewage pump stations and nine water recycling plants.


Our pipes and yours – who is responsible?​


We manage and maintain the sewer up to the connection point with your property, often near the property boundary. This connection point is called the inspection opening and any pipes or fittings upstream of this is the responsibility of the property owner. There are generally two types of house connection drain arrangements: a boundary trap and an inspection shaft. These are shown in the diagrams below, as are the connection points.

It is important that the property owner maintains and keeps the boundary trap and inspection shaft accessible and uncovered at all times. If there is a blocked pipe in your home, this is the first place sewage should spill.



How can I prevent blocked sewers?

There are some easy ways you can help look after your pipes, and ours too. From planting the right tree near a sewer pipe, to knowing what you shouldn’t pour down the sink or flush down the toilet – there is plenty you can do.

Learn more about preventing blocked sewers.


What should I do if I have a blocked sewer or pipe?


Some blockages may cause your outlets to drain slowly while others can cause wastewater or sewage to spill outside from your boundary trap/inspection shaft or inside from your toilet or basin. It is important to try to determine where the blockage is caused:

  • If sewage is spilling continuously or you hear a bubbling sound from your fixtures and no internal fixtures are being used, the blockage could be in our sewer. Call us on 132 812. If the blockage is in our pipes, we will fix it at our cost.
  • If you have a slowly draining toilet, sink or shower, it may be a blockage in your internal drain. This would be the property owner’s responsibility. Please contact your plumber to diagnose the problem. You can also engage South East Water’s plumbing service Priority Plumbing on 1300 760 306.

Learn more about what to do if you have a blocked sewer or pipe.


What should I expect from my plumber?


If your plumber identifies that the blocked sewer is in South East Water’s system, they are required to call us on 132 812 to report the blockage. Our crew will then attend to investigate and repair the blockage, and your plumber may receive a spotter’s fee of $74+ GST for correctly reporting the issue. As only South East Water and its approved contractors are allowed to access and carry out repairs on our assets and pipes, your plumber should not perform any work on a blockage that is our responsibility.

If the plumber also invoices you for the time spent to diagnose the cause of the blockage, we may reimburse the reasonable costs associated with the call out (typically between $200 and $300).


The sewerage system and extreme rainfall events

In Australia, we maintain separate stormwater and sewerage systems. In Melbourne, water authorities like South East Water manage the sewerage network while Melbourne Water is responsible for the stormwater system.

We know that during heavy rain events, stormwater can enter the sewerage network which is why they are built to cope with daily peaks and inflows from significant rainfall flows of 25mm of rain in one hour. This reflects the typical rainfall for a one in five year storm event and is in line with the Environment Protection Authority requirement.

Despite this, during extreme storm events (beyond a one in five year storm) the sewerage system may reach capacity. When this happens we may need to discharge diluted sewage at specific overflow locations, which are generally into creeks or low lying areas away from likely human contact. We report the action to EPA Victoria and notify relevant local councils. There is no impact on drinking water quality from this type of action.

It's important to note that heavy rain can also wash other pollutants such as dog droppings, oil, nutrients and litter into Melbourne's rivers and creeks. This impacts water quality and as a precaution you should avoid contact with rivers and creeks for 48 hours after heavy rain.