Sewer Infiltration & Overflows Sewer Infiltration & Overflows

Gladstone Regional Council's sewerage system is designed to transfer sewage and waste-water from each home or business to the waste-water treatment plants via house drains, sewers and pumping stations.

The sewerage system is not designed to carry runoff from rainfall and can result in overflowing into other residential households.

In times of heavy rainfall, the sewerage system can become affected by the inflow of stormwater which, in turn, can have the following effects:

  • The capacity of the network becomes overloaded; and
  •  Sewage overflows can occur.

The majority of inflow of is caused by:

  • Illegal rainwater connection into the sewer network; and/or
  • Landscaping that diverts stormwater into manholes or overflow relief gullies ORG).

More about Overflow Relief Gullies (ORG)

An ORG is an opening that acts as a relief point between the house drain and Council's system.

The gully trap, or what is commonly referred to as the ORG, prevents smells and overflows entering buildings. All waste water from the laundry, kitchen, bath and shower goes through pipes into the ORG.

The toilet is different as it connects separately to the main house pipe.

The ORG is located outside your house; generally in the area outside of your kitchen. The ORG should be above ground level to ensure that stormwater does not enter.

Inflow through the ORG is normally un-intentional when stormwater cannot flow away due to landscaping or other obstructions blocking the flow-path of the stormwater. The stormwater builds up around the ORG and then, when high enough, enters the network. 

Residents need to be aware that any discharge of storm water into the sewer network, whether it through the ORG or connection of storm water downpipes or drainage pipes, is illegal and can result in a Council fine.

What constitutes inflow/infiltration?

Inflow/infiltration is any external source of water, stormwater or groundwater that enters the sewerage system.

Why is it a problem?

Inflow/Infiltration increases the volume of water in the sewer systems which can result in the capacity of the network being exceeded. This causes the network to overflow, resulting in environmental harm and creating risks to human health.

To fix this problem through the construction of larger pipes, pump stations and treatment plants will cost Council many millions of dollars. This is not an acceptable outcome for the ratepayers.

What do I need to do?

Owners/occupants might not always be aware that rainwater from their property is entering the sewerage system.

Previous residents might have connected rainwater pipes illegally to the network. Owners/occupiers must investigate their drainage system by:

  • Checking that all downpipes discharge to the ground or to the street: This can be done by discharging water into your downpipe and seeing the point where the water flows out. If no point of discharge can be found, there might be an illegal connection.
  • Inspect the area around the ORG to ensure that stormwater can flow away. Verify this during a rain event. If water dams up around the ORG, adjust the landscaping or remove the obstacle.
  • Please contact Council if you cannot find your ORG or if you think you might have an illegal connection.

What next?

Gladstone Regional Council is committed to reducing the incidence of illegal and inadvertent inflows into the sewerage reticulation system.

Council conducts inspection programs to identify illegal connections and the inadvertent channelling of water into the sewerage reticulation system.

Council will fine people who blatantly flaunt the law but offers an amnesty for those who seek to rectify the situation within a 30-day grace period.

Please do not wait for Council to make you aware of problems and fix them as soon as possible.

Remember that a decision to avoid warnings may result in penalties but it could directly affect your neighbour's lifestyle.

Download Council's Sewer Infiltration and Overflow Fact Sheet