Blockage or sewer outflow

A network of pipes, pumps and wastewater treatment plants are used for the transport and treatment of sewage in Whitsunday region. This system is operated and maintained by Whitsunday Regional Council.

Sewage has the potential to overflow from the network at various times. In wet weather, an overflow is usually the result of a large amount of stormwater entering the system which is above what the capacity of the sewer network can handle. Pumping stations and treatment plants are designed to overflow in certain situations to prevent raw sewage backing up into houses.

In dry weather, an overflow may be due to a blockage, damage to pipes, or a power system failure of a pumping station.  Overflows can result in untreated sewage directly entering the waterways.

What to do if you notice a sewer overflow 
If you notice sewage leaking or overflowing from Council’s network of pipes, please contact Council immediately.  Council has a 24 hours call centre to respond to these types of enquiries. The Council is responsible to clean up the overflow.

If the sewage leak is on your property, call a licensed plumber immediately. Homeowners or plumbers requiring general advice, please contact Council between 8am and 5pm weekdays.

Avoid contact with raw sewage. If you have any health concerns about contact with sewage, phone 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for advice.

Notification of sewer overflows
 As part of our regulatory conditions, Whitsunday Regional Council will notify the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection when a sewer overflow spills onto any Council land or waterway. Council is responsible to clean up the overflow.

In the event of a sewer overflow
Residents are advised to avoid any waterway where there has been a sewer overflow.
Please contact Council if you have any questions regarding the removal of the sewage from the area.

What is a blockage?
Is your sink, bath or shower tray draining slower than normal, or is your toilet overfilling? Are you experiencing an overflow in the garden? This could be a sign of a blocked pipe.

What should I do if there’s a blockage?
Do not attempt to clear the blockage yourself. We recommend you call a licensed plumber to assess the problem. They will be able to tell you if the blockage is in pipes that the property owner owns and are responsible for or in pipes that are Council’s responsibility.

How do I fix my blocked sink?
If your sink is blocked, you should call a licenced plumber immediately. They can assist you in clearing your sink.
We own, manage and have the responsibility of the sewage network outside of your property boundary, and therefore cannot assist with faults within your home or business.

What to do if the blockage is in your pipes (the property owners’ pipes)
It may be the property owner’s responsibility if:
• your neighbors are not experiencing the blockage;
• your drainage is not shared with other properties;
• there is no flooding in your local area.

To clear the blockage you can call a licensed plumber to remove the blockage for you. For a referral to a licenced plumber, phone the Master Plumbers' Association of Queensland 
What to do if the blockage is in Whitsunday Regional Council pipes?
It may be our responsibility if we have sewers in the area and one of the following applies:
• The problem is visible outside your property boundary (e.g. beyond your water meter).
• Your neighbor(s) are experiencing the same problem.
• There is wide spread flooding in your local area. 

If your property has been flooded by Council’s sewer network or if the blockage is in Council’s pipes, please contact Council immediately.  Council has a 24 hour call centre to respond to emergency works. We will send a crew to clean-up and clear the blockage.  We do not charge for clearing a sewer blockage that occurs up to the property connection point. 

What if my plumber determines the blockage is in Whitsunday Regional Council’s network?
If your plumber has inspected your sewer pipe and identified that the blockage is in our infrastructure, please contact Council.  Alternatively, your plumber may choose to contact Council directly and request for one of Council’s plumbers to attend and inspect the site.

If the location of the blockage is within the sewer network outside of your property line, then the response crew will investigate and resolve the problem. 

What should I do if I wish to be compensated for the out-of-pocket plumbing fees?
If the blockage occurred in a part of the sewer network that you are responsible for, you will need to pay for plumbing costs. If the blockage occurred on Council’s side of the network, we may provide assistance.

Regardless of whether the failure is in pipes that you are responsible for or in a part of the Council network, if you engage a plumber, you will need to pay for the plumbing fees, including any blockage investigation fees.

If the blockage is within Council infrastructure, you can then lodge a claim with Council for compensation. Please contact Council as soon as possible for assistance and provide details of the incident, compensation sought, plumber’s report and plumber’s invoice or account if available.

What causes blockages? 
Sewage pipes are only designed to take away sewage and toilet tissue. Blockages are typically caused by:
• fats or solids being washed down household pipes or flushed down toilets,
• tree roots entering and growing inside pipes
• stormwater entering and overloading the sewage network.
Click here to find out what you should not put in the sewer to prevent blockages.

Property Damaged
If your property is damaged because of a sewage overflow or burst water main, regardless of whether the overflow or burst occurred in a section of the network that you are responsible for, or in a part of our network, we recommend:
• property owners contact their insurance company as soon as possible, or
• tenants contact their property manager or landlord as soon as possible.

Who pays for the cost to repair my property?
Any costs associated with the damage to your property, including cleaning, repair and replacement costs, should be referred to your insurer.

Every home insurance claim is unique and the process varies, however, you will most likely need to supply your insurer with:
• your name and contact details,
• an incident description,
• details of any loss or damage.
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