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Stop it don't block it

Home / Residential / Water, sewerage and your property / Stop it don't block it /

Whatever you flush down the toilet, or rinse down the sink, might be out of sight, out of mind for you but it all ends up in the sewerage system where there are a lot of pipes and pumps that can get blocked – some of them on your property.

You can help us keep the pipes flowing and protect the environment by considering how you dispose of things that don’t belong down the sink or toilet.

Think before you dump it in the sink, or flush it down the toilet: is it drain safe and what damage could it do?

We spend around $140,000 a year fixing blocked pipes and pumps after unsuitable materials have found their way into the system. That’s money we shouldn’t need to spend. Help us by doing your bit to reduce the blockages.

Frequently Asked Questions

All sewage and wastewater heads either to our treatment plants or to the Gippsland Water Factory, where we process and treat the waste.

Once treated, the water from our treatment plants is fed safely into waterways or the ocean, or reused on our farms

When the wrong things end up in the pipes, it can mean costly repairs for us and inconvenience for you.

Please dispose of these substances by bagging them and binning them with your domestic waste:

  • Cooking oils
  • Fat
  • Nappies
  • Condoms
  • Tampons
  • Sanitary napkins
  • Cotton buds
  • Baby wipes
  • Kitty litter
  • Fruit stickers

Contact your local council to discuss the most appropriate disposal of the following substances and products:

  • Diesel
  • Motor oils
  • Petrol
  • Lubricants
  • Paints
  • Chemicals
  • Pesticides
  • Herbicides
  • Medicines
  • Plastic
  • Batteries

Check with your local council for information about safe disposal of other waste, particularly chemicals, pesticides, motor oils, petrol, paints, and medicines and other non-biodegradable products.

Here are some suggestions for disposing of household waste:

  • Mop up kitchen oils/fats with kitchen towel, then bag and bin it.
  • Put nappies, cotton buds, baby wipes, condoms, sanitary products and plastic wrappings in a bag and bin with your normal rubbish.
  • Use a sink strainer to limit the amount of food scraps going down your pipes, which can collect with fats and become a much larger blockage before they decompose. (Contact Gippsland Water and we'll send you one)

At home or in the pipes near home
Bulky items such as wipes, nappies, tampons, and sanitary pads can cause blockages in the sewer pipes, particularly if they catch on something else that shouldn't be there like a tree root.

Remember: The fittings and pipes within your boundaries are your responsibility until the point of connection to Gippsland Water's sewerage pipes.

Firstly, if it causes a blocked pipe, you or your neighbours may experience poor drain flow or sewer backflow on your properties. The result is a potentially smelly health hazard which can be costly to repair or replace.

Tree roots can break pipes, particularly the older type pipes. When they do, it's even easier for fats and other waste to build-up around them and cause a major blockage.

You should regularly use a plumber to check your sewer pipes and help you maintain them.

Even if the leakage isn't obvious on your property, the waste can be causing damage to the environment or might make it all the way down the pipe to cause significant problems in our treatment plants.

When we get called out to investigate blockages in the sewerage pipes, we have found all sorts of things that shouldn't be there, including:

  • Socks, jocks and bras (yes, really)
  • Toys, including cars, dolls and stuffed animals
  • Lego – you might think it's small enough not to matter, but it does*

Smaller items, such as cotton buds, condoms, fruit stickers may make it all the way down the pipes to the treatment plant, but they get caught in the pumps and valves, and other mechanical equipment.

We may need to shut down the treatment plant to repair the blockages and any damage. This can cause faults in the treatment process, non-compliant water to be produced, and can cost hundreds or thousands dollars' worth of damage.

*For instance, recently, a failure of a sludge pump at the Warragul wastewater treatment plant was caused by a tiny piece of Lego no larger than a little fingernail.

Oils and fat cause damage by blocking up pipes and valves, or jamming up mechanical equipment and sensors. They build up on equipment that need to control important parts of the treatment plant and can lead to the treatment process failing to make quality treated water.

Chemicals other than standard household cleaners and detergents cause damage by adding contaminants that cannot be broken down in the treatment process and can end up harming the environment.

They can also make the biology in the treatment process sick (sometimes even kill it), meaning the process will not treat the sewage properly. This can take a very long time to recover and can be very costly. It may mean we need to use more chemicals to treat the sewage which costs more money.

Fuels, paints and lubricants don't break down in the treatment process, can coat and cover important equipment and can harm the environment when they get discharged with the treated water.

Fruit stickers cause a problem by clogging up small valves, sensors and mechanical equipment and also get discharged to the environment with the treated water, which is not good for the environment or the animal and bird life.

Tree roots are currently responsible for over half of blockages and breakages to our sewer and supply systems.

Some tree roots have been found to travel up to 30 metres from the tree base. Once a tree root finds its way into the water or sewer system, it can reduce flow in pipelines and potentially cause blockages and pipe damage.

Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of the sewer drains and water pipes inside their property's boundary. If a tree on a private property causes damage or blockages, it is the responsibility of the property owner to cover all of the costs of investigating the blockages and of repairing or replacing the drain or connection.

Choosing the right trees to plant on your property and managing them well is one of the ways you can help reduce the instances of blockages and breaks in the sewer system. You can download our guide to 'Trees and Your Pipes' here.

Watch the video

About Us

Gippsland Water supplies fresh clean drinking water to more than 70,000 customers, and wastewater services to more than 63,000 customers across an area of more than 5,000 square kilometres. It maintains a $1 billion infrastructure network, which includes more than 2,000 kilometres of water mains, 15 water treatment plants, over 1,700 kilometres of sewer mains and 14 wastewater treatment plants.

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Contact Us

55 Hazelwood Road, Traralgon, VIC, 3844

Phone: 1800 050 500

Fax: (03) 5174 0103

Interpreter service: 1313 450

TTY: 1800 555 677