All of a sudden you find yourself in a pickle – you have a blocked drainage pipe. You may be experiencing flooding in your house due to your sewer line backing up, you may have a horrible smell coming from your drains, or raw sewerage may be flowing from your drains, down your driveway and onto your street!

You obviously need this problem to be fixed but who is responsible? Who owns the drains? Do you? Does Sydney Water? Do your neighbours?

The answer is potentially a combination of all three.

What property owners are responsible for:

Property owners are responsible for the private wastewater pipes on their property up to and including where they connect to Sydney Water’s pipes (the connection point).

The drain blockage is likely in your private pipes if:

  • your neighbours aren’t experiencing a blockage
  • your drainage isn’t shared with other properties
  • there is no flooding in your local area
  • you’re only experiencing an overflow when using water on your property. (Sydney Water 2019)

A drainage expert will be able to tell you if your house connects straight to Sydney Water or if you connect onto a ‘party’ line. A party line connects several houses at once to Sydney Water’s main.

Who is responsible if you are connected to a party line?

If you connect straight to Sydney Water then the problem is less complicated. But, if you connect to a party line then the location of the problem determines who is responsible. For example, if you have a crack in your sewer line that comes from your bathroom and joins the party line, it is your responsibility to cover the cost of the repair as it is solely your drain with the problem. But, if you have a break or crack on the party line, your neighbour(s) may need to contribute to cover the cost of the repairs because the line is shared. Sometimes it is very difficult to reach a consensus and disputes can continue for years leaving damaged drains to worsen over time.

If it’s only your line that connects to Sydney Water’s main, contact a licensed drainage expert to clear the blockage in your drain. If the problem is found to be a Sydney Water issue, one of our technicians can organise a Sydney Water claim so that you can recoup the cost of clearing the pipe work from Sydney Water.

What Sydney Water is responsible for:

Sydney Water is responsible for the wastewater pipes from Sydney Water’s network up to the property connection point.

The drain blockage is likely to be in Sydney Water’s pipes if:

  • the overflow is visible beyond your property boundary, e.g.  from a manhole located on public land
  • your neighbours are experiencing the same problem
  • there is widespread flooding in your local area
  • you’re experiencing a continuous overflow and you’re not currently using water on your property. (Sydney Water 2019)

If this is the case, you will need to call Sydney Water on 13 20 90 (24 hours/7 days) to report the issue. They will send a crew to the site to investigate.

Don’t panic, call a licensed drainage expert