Sewerage manhole cover

SA Water’s proactive maintenance approach to help reduce sewer blockages and overflow in hotspot suburbs has resulted in the cleaning of more than 250km of Adelaide’s sewer mains in the past twelve months.

This initiative is part of the utility’s increased investment of $2.2 million per year targeting 23 suburbs, such as Athelstone, Blackwood, Rostrevor and Wynn Vale, which experience an increased number of sewer incidents.

SA Water’s Senior Manager of Production and Treatment, Lisa Hannant, said the preventative cleaning led to a 20 per cent reduction in overflows across these targeted suburbs during the past year.

“Keeping our sewers healthy is a shared responsibility and expanding our sewer cleaning program is one of the initiatives we’re investing in to help reduce the risk of pipe blockages and unsightly overflows,” Ms Hannant said.

“We continually track sewer overflows to identify the worst performing suburbs across the metropolitan area, especially where it’s resulted in sewage entering the environment, such as a creek or reserve.

“Typically, these areas are in the foothills and experience more blockages due to the presence of tree roots, which are the leading cause of this type of incident. Thirsty roots break into sewer pipes looking for water and continue to grow, blocking the flow of sewage to our treatment plants.

“We’re able to achieve the greatest impact by targeting hotspots to prevent overflows from happening in the first place, helping keep your ones and twos in the pipes, while protecting the environment.”

SA Water crews use jet rodders – hoses operated at a high pressure and use the power of water to dislodge and cut through blockages in suspect pipes – before performing CCTV inspections to assess the impact of the cleaning and structural integrity of the sewer main.

Additional attachments such as root saws are also deployed to safely break down roots without impacting the tree’s health and limiting further growth.

Ms Hannant said more than a quarter of blockages are caused by things that shouldn’t have been flushed.

“These unflushables include cooking fats and oils, condoms, tampons and wet wipes, which are usually found blocking a customer’s connection point, increasing the risk of an overflow inside their home,” Ms Hannant said.

“Only ever flushing the three Ps – pee, poo and (toilet) paper – and diverting cooking oil and food scraps to the bin will help customers protect their pipes and avoid these situations.”

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