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Sewer blockages are at an all-time low in Central and Northern Victoria, with Coliban Water attributing the result to changes to sewer maintenance and preventative cleaning programs.

The program included the sewer cleaning of more than 4,100 sewer mains, or roughly 203km of sewer, condition assessment and maintenance hole inspections in the last year.

Coliban’s Manager Customer Operations, Steve Dunlop, said the corporation is working to improve sewer performance and reduce service interruptions, overflows, and impact to communities and the environment. 

“In the last financial year, we recorded 20 blockages per 100km of sewer, which is a dramatic reduction since the 2013/14 financial year, where we recorded in excess of 60 blockages per 100km,” Mr Dunlop said. 

“By 2022 we aim to further reduce that number. We have been utilising Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) condition assessment of around 1,550 poor performing sewer mains throughout our region, which has given us better accuracy of their condition.”

In 2018/19, approximately 500 sewer maintenance holes were inspected across the region and a total of 139 sections of sewer main have been renewed, which is equivalent to 7.9km of sewer main.

Sewer blockages can be caused by tree roots, but it is the rubbish flushed down the toilet that does not break down, that increases the risk of blockages, emphasising the importance of preventative maintenance.

“Carrying out this significant program not only means fewer sewer blockages and spills, it minimises our impact on the environment and saves customers and the organisation money in responding to spills,” Mr Dunlop said. 

“This reduction in blockage rates now brings Coliban Water into line with other Victorian water authorities and helps us work towards our Strategy 2030 goals of a cleaner environment and healthier communities.”

The reduced blockage rates are being assisted by the ‘Bin it, don’t flush it’ campaign, which aims to educate the community on what can and cannot go down toilets and drains.

“Just last week we experienced a sewer spill in Kyneton, which was caused by a blockage of wet wipes. It goes to show everything that goes down the toilet has to go somewhere, and can have major implications for our communities,” Mr Dunlop said.

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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