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Coliban Water’s Stop the Block campaign, a dedicated program of sewer maintenance and preventative cleaning, has resulted in record low blockage counts and reduced customer costs.

Executive General Manager Service Delivery, Danny McLean, said the Stop the Block campaign was launched in 2016, increasing investment to over $1 million each year to improve sewer performance and reduce service interruptions, overflows, and impacts to communities and the environment. 

“In the last financial year, we recorded 18 blockages per 100kmof sewer, which is a dramatic reduction since the 2013/14 financial year, where we recorded in excess of 60 blockages per 100km,” Mr McLean said. 

It’s also a reduction from 22 blockages per 100km in 2019/20 financial year.

“The 70 per cent reduction means greater than 3,800 blockages have been avoided in the last seven years. 

“This is a huge reduction in customer and environmental impacts. It’s also saving customers’ money on reactive sewer repairs and clean-up costs. That’s a real win for the community.”

During 2020/21, there were record low blockage counts in several months, including in December and March, which contributed to an overall record low blockage rate for the year.

“We have been utilising closed circuit television (CCTV) to assess the condition of around 3,500 poor performing sewer mains throughout our region, which provides accurate information to drive our renewals program,” Mr McLean said.

In 2020-2021, approximately 600 sewer maintenance holes have been inspected across the region and a total of 40 sections of sewer main have been renewed, which is equivalent to 1.9km.

“We also undertook preventative sewer cleaning of approximately 5,000 sewer mains, equating to roughly 270km. This includes 70kmof sewer mains adjacent to creeks and waterways,” Mr McLean said.

Sewer blockages can be caused by tree roots, but it is the non-flushable items people flush down the toilet that increases the risk of blockages, highlighting the importance of preventative maintenance and proactive community behaviours.

“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 McLean said.

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

“Our environment and sustainability policy commits us to seek the highest possible standards of environmental performance, as well as ensure the protection of waters influenced by our operations and these reductions help us meet those objectives.”

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.

“We want to thank the public for their efforts to only put the three Ps down the toilet; pee, poo and toilet paper, but there is still a long way to go,” Mr McLean said.

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