Blocked pipes

In the ACT, leaseholders are responsible for maintaining the sanitary drain and clear access to the sewerage and stormwater systems. They must also ensure stormwater runoff is not connected to the household sanitary drainage system. 

Icon Water is responsible for maintaining the system, clearing blockages and repairing damage and deterioration. This includes sewer ties, which is where the household system joins the main system up to the lease boundary.

Blockages on the household side of the sewer tie are the responsibility of the leaseholder. Most blockages occur when:

  • roots from trees and shrubs tap into pipes
  • hot fat is tipped down sinks, cooling and solidifying
  • objects enter the system
  • pipes break from excavations, or heavy vehicles being driven over them.

For more information go to Sewerage network boundaries and responsibilities and Sewerage services and blockages.

What to do if a blockage occurs

  • Report overflowing sewer access chamber covers to Icon Water.
  • Report overflowing external grates to Icon Water — only if they continue to overflow when no household fixtures, such as toilets, are running.
  • Check inspection risers for water and, if present, report this to Icon Water.
  • A private drainer or plumber should be contacted in all other cases.

If the drainer believes the obstruction is in the sewer system Icon Water must be contacted to attend at the site before the blockage is cleared. Icon Water is prepared to reimburse the drainer and householder for all reasonable costs only if Icon Water staff have attended the site.

All claims for sewer reimbursement can now be sent via e-mail to: Please detail Icon Water reference number, and fault address in subject bar.

Required documentation for a sewer reimbursement claim for Plumbers:

  • Detailed invoice explaining scope of works (attach as PDF)
  • Date of works
  • Icon Water job reference number
  • Invoices are to be made out to Icon Water

Required documentation for a sewer reimbursement claim for home owners:

  • Short cover letter asking for reimbursement of plumbing costs including date of works, and Icon Water job reference number
  • Attached copy of the detailed plumbing invoice (attach as PDF).

Preventing blockages

The following steps will assist in preventing blockages:

  • choose appropriate trees and shrubs for planting near pipes
  • don't pour fat down sinks or drains
  • check the location of pipes and drains before excavating
  • don't flush objects down toilets
  • keep external grates and covers in place to stop objects entering drains.

Trees and shrubs

Tree and shrub roots are a major cause of pipe blockages. Roots tap into soil moisture and nutrients. When these are not readily available many species try to break into the sewer system. Once tree roots break into a pipe they continue to grow until blockages happen and in severe cases break the pipe. When planting it is advisable to locate trees the recommended distance from sewer lines.

For advice on suitable trees and shrubs talk to your local nursery. Further information For information on clearing blocked sewers and drains contact Icon Water Emergencies and faults 02 6248 3111 (opt "1") (24 hours). 

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