The Sydney Water Responsibility?

An illustration of a house and trees with pipes flowing underneath

A sudden collapse in your private wastewater pipes, especially if it’s under a public road or footpath, can be daunting. Not only is it disruptive, but the unplanned costs associated with excavations and repairs can also strain your budget.

However, Sydney residents might find solace in a particular offering from Sydney Water.

Since 2015, Sydney Water has provided a lifeline to certain customers facing this situation and similar issues. But how does this service work, and who’s eligible?

Read on to understand more and gain insights into the broader responsibilities associated with wastewater pipes in Sydney.

Does your plumber suspect your private sewer service has collapsed? 

When the unexpected happens and your plumber identifies a collapse within your private wastewater system, the path forward can seem overwhelming. The thought of unearthing a public road or footpath for repairs presents an imposing, unanticipated cost.

However, Sydney Water recognises this challenge. From the 1st of July 2015, they launched a new service, stepping in to repair private pipes that have succumbed beneath public areas, entirely free of charge.

It’s important to note that this service is only available to eligible customers and subject to certain terms and conditions.

Rest assured, if you prefer a more personal touch or have unique requirements, you have the choice to seek the services of an independent plumbing business.

What makes you eligible for this service? 

Navigating Sydney Water’s service requires a clear understanding of the eligibility conditions. Here’s a breakdown to ensure you’re on the right track:

  • Inspection and attempted clearance: A licensed private plumber must first inspect and try to clear any obstructions in your pipes.
  • Evidence of collapse: Your private pipe must display evidence of collapse. This can be a visible collapse, often captured on CCTV, or a persistent blockage that remains immovable even after efforts from both your plumber and Sydney Water.
  • Location of collapse: The compromised section of your pipe must be located beneath a public footpath or road, placing it under Sydney Water’s purview.
  • Agreement or replacement: It’s essential for Sydney Water to verify and agree with your licensed plumber that the sole solution is replacing the pipe, and the fault cannot be repaired without excavating the footpath or road.
  • Other conditions: While these criteria form the basis for fixing the problem at hand, Sydney Water may have additional conditions that need consideration.

Who is responsible for maintaining my private wastewater pipes? 

It’s one of the most common questions from Australian property owners: who is in charge of maintaining private wastewater pipes?

In simple terms, as a property owner in New South Wales, you hold responsibility for the operation and upkeep of your private wastewater pipes, right up until the point they merge with the Sydney Water main. This connection point might not always be located within your property boundary. It can sometimes be located just outside your catchment area.

For a deeper understanding, we recommend visiting the Sydney Water website.

If you’re curious about potential rebates or require more detailed information, don’t hesitate to reach out to our experienced team. We’re here to help.

What does the Repair Program do?

The Repair Program has been created for Sydney residents facing the daunting task of repairing a collapsed private sewer pipe that requires the excavation of a road or footpath.

While this service is free, it’s important to note that it’s only available to eligible customers and subject to certain conditions.

The program doesn’t facilitate immediate emergency repairs. In pressing situations, we strongly recommend reaching out to licensed plumbing businesses that can provide same-day services for wastewater blockages and similar damages.

Licensed plumbers are fully equipped with the necessary tools for excavations and repairs, can offer the necessary resources, and have full authorisation to complete the job in a way that aligns with Sydney Water’s guidelines and regulations.

Situations where Sydney Water can help

Sydney Water can provide support in specific circumstances where you might feel overwhelmed with plumbing issues in and around your home environment. Their Customer Contract authorises them to assist with the following scenarios:

  • When a licensed plumber provides evidence of a collapse in your private sewer pipe that can’t be addressed merely by relining.
  • When the collapse is situated on public land that’s beyond your property boundary.
  • When this collapse occurs under established roadways or concrete footpaths (excluding grassy verges, unpaved paths, or green spaces).
  • When the plumber hasn’t already exposed your pipes in the road or footpath.
  • We agree with your licensed plumber that a full pipe replacement is the sole viable solution.

Providing evidence of the collapsed pipe

For Sydney Water to intervene and offer assistance, it’s essential to provide definitive evidence pointing to the collapse of your sewer pipe. Here’s how you can ensure your case gets validated:

  • Typically, a CCTV recording or well-detailed photographs, taken by your plumber, can serve as valid evidence of the collapse.
  • To simplify the submission process, you or your plumber can email the evidence directly to Sydney Water. Alternatively, you can use popular online file-sharing platforms like Dropbox or Google Drive.
  • Along with the visual proof, you’ll need to sign and return the Terms and Conditions document.

If your private plumber can’t provide evidence of the collapse

In circumstances where your private plumber cannot provide conclusive evidence of a pipe collapse, Sydney Water is here to assist in clarifying the issue:

  • Sydney Water offers the service of dispatching an independent specialist plumber. This expert will conduct a thorough assessment, aiming to confirm whether your pipes have suffered a collapse beneath a footpath or street.
  • The specialist will employ advanced tools such as CCTV cameras to capture a detailed view of your pipes and might use high-pressure jetting equipment to tackle potential blockages.
  • In the event that the independent plumber authenticates that the collapse exists beneath public land, Sydney Water will cover the costs.
  • However, should the specialist determine that the collapse is not present beneath the public footpath or road, or if there’s a different problem (for example, roots from trees causing blockages or a drainage issue), the property owner must bear the charges.
  • Currently, the fees are $500 + GST for the first 30 minutes, and an additional $150 + GST for every subsequent half hour.

How to find out if you’re eligible

Sydney Water has established a specialised team dedicated to addressing collapsed services. Here’s how to navigate the process:

  • Once you or your plumber forwards the relevant evidence, the Collapsed Services team will step in for a thorough review and, potentially, perform additional assessments.
  • Please anticipate a processing time of up to two business days for a comprehensive evaluation.
  • The moment the assessment concludes, Sydney Water will promptly get in touch, relay the findings, and guide you through the next steps.

What happens next?

  • Once Sydney Water has received the signed Terms and Conditions and you’re deemed eligible, their trusted repair specialist will be dispatched to your property.
  • The initial visit involves an in-depth evaluation of the repair necessities. This includes determining the extent of the excavation, ensuring the availability of safety gear, and acquiring any necessary permissions for road openings. Typically, this stage lasts from two to four days, although weather and other unpredictable factors can play a part.
  • Once a detailed plan has been made, their team will begin the excavation and repair works. This is commonly completed within a 10-day window, but various factors, such as obtaining road permission and unpredictable weather, can extend the timeline.
  • The good news? Your presence isn’t required on-site during the repair. The Sydney Water team will work diligently, ensuring minimal disruption.

How to apply for the Repair Program

Considering the Repair Program for your collapsed pipes? Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Begin by emailing clear evidence of the pipe collapse to
  2. Carefully review and return the signed Terms and Conditions document.
  3. If you’re unable to provide evidence of the collapse, don’t fret. Sydney Water can range for an independent specialist plumber to evaluate the situation for you.
  4. Expect to hear back from Sydney Water with the assessment results within two business days.

Ensuring a sustainable future for your property’s water health

In the heart of Australia’s bustling metropolis of Sydney, managing water assets is critical. Ensuring a steady flow of healthy drinking water and efficient repair work requires collaboration between Sydney Water and property owners.

Maintenance is vital: addressing issues like pipe collapses ensures a hassle-free future for everyone in the surrounding environment. While navigating the intricacies of property management and pipe treatment can be daunting, understanding your responsibilities and when you’re entitled to assistance can be a game changer.

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