Drain Sheriff

'Take care of your drains'

What do drains do?
There are drains inside your house to take away water after it is used from your taps, sinks, baths or toilets. These drains join the 3,300km of sewerage pipes that runs underground through Canberra to the sewage treatment plant, Lower Molonglo Water Quality Control Centre. Water leaving this treatment plant is so thoroughly treated that it can return to the natural water cycle, free of pollution and can be reused by other towns further downstream. It then flows into the Molonglo River, Murrumbidgee River and then into the Murray-Darling Basin river system, eventually going into the ocean south of Adelaide. 

What rooms in your home or school do we find drains?
Bathroom (shower and/or bath)
Kitchen (sink and dishwasher)
Laundry (sink and washing machine)

What can and cannot go down the drain?
Everything you put down the drain, sink or flush down the toilet goes through the sewerage system. It is really important to remember what can and cannot go down the sewer network to avoid blockages or bursts.

An easy way to remember what can go into the sewer network is the 3P’s – pee, poo and paper.

Things that cannot go down the sewer network are fats, oils and grease. After these are washed down the sink, they quickly cool and solidify sticking to the walls of the pipes causing blockages. If they mix with other items such as wet wipes or sanitary products, blockages can become more serious and very expensive to fix.

Wet wipes include baby wipes, toilet wipes, body wipes, personal hygiene wipes and cleaning wipes. They may be labelled as “flushable” or “biodegradable”, but these don’t disintegrate like toilet paper. Synthetic wet wipes do not break down, contributing to major blockages in our sewerage network.

The pipes that run from your home to the main sewer network are only a few inches wide. They can become blocked easily and if blocked sewage can quickly back up into your street, garden or even your home, causing a dirty and costly mess – which is completely avoidable.

Check out the ACT Government's A-Z Recyclopedia for alternative disposal options for wastes that cannot go down the drain.