About wastewater

We call sewage wastewater. 

Our sewer network gathers and treats wastewater (sewage) from domestic, commercial and industrial sources.

We are required to provide sewerage services in some areas under the Local Government Act 2002.

We also have responsibility to make sure private systems, on-site wastewater treatment systems and plumbing are designed and built in accordance with the Building Act 2004. 

Discharges to the environment from our treatment plants or private on-site systems are managed by the Northland Regional Council under rules in the Resource Management Act.

We own and maintain all of the main sewer pipes, whether they are located on private or public land.

Public land

We own and are responsible for the upkeep of the connection pipe on public land, between the main sewer and the inspection point at the boundary with private property.

We are responsible for the costs associated with unblocking public pipes.

Private land

The property owner is responsible for and owns the connection pipe on private land, from the property up to the inspection point located before the connection into the main sewer. 

Property owners are responsible for repairs and maintenance of the wastewater pipes located on their land, between the building and the inspection point on the private/public property boundary.

As a rule, building over or close to wastewater or stormwater drainage pipes isn't permitted.

However, in circumstances where it is inevitable and provided certain conditions are met, building may be allowed.

Building Over Public Sewers Policy

Blocked drains

If there are problems with blocked or slow flowing drains on your property, then please contact us immediately. We will arrange to check the public sewer and to clear and remove any blockage and clean up affected areas attributable to any failure in the public sewer. There will be no charge for this investigation. If it is found that the blockage in the public sewer is attributable to any failure in the private drain, then Council reserves the right to recover the costs of investigation and repair from the customer.

If the blockage is found to be within the customer’s private drain, then the customer will have to privately engage a plumber to clear their drain.

Pipe breaks

Pipes may break for a number of reasons such as landslides/slips, excavations and pipe wear and tear. This will generally result in an immediate spill of sewage at the point of break.

If a section of pipe breaks or gets damaged on private land, it is the responsibility of the property owner to repair the damage and pay the cost of the work.

Registered and Licensed Contractors(PDF, 143KB)

We are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all public sewer pipes. If you think that the damaged pipe is Council owned, please contact us and our contractor will investigate.

Swimming pools and spa pools

Swimming pool and spa pool water should be disposed of into the town sewage system or via irrigation onto your land. For further details, please read our guidelines. 

Guidelines for Disposing of Swimming and Spa Pool Water(PDF, 97KB)

If you see a sewage spill, please call us to report it immediately.

Phone:  09 430 4200 (24 hrs)

For non-urgent sewer and gully trap problems use the link below.

Report an issue

Read more about our response procedure for sewage spills.

Sewage Spill Procedure(PDF, 260KB)

Dispose of fat correctly

When fat gets into a sewer, it forms lumps which stick to the pipe walls. Eventually the lumps become heavy enough to fall off and float down the pipe. If they are big enough, they can block the pipe completely and cause spills.

Please think carefully when disposing of fats. After cooking, let the fat cool, put it into a sealed container and then into your rubbish bin.

Pots, pans and plates should be scraped into the rubbish bin before being rinsed and washed. A sink strainer is also an effective way of stopping food scraps entering the waste system.

Commercial facilities dealing with large amounts of fat must have grease traps correctly fitted and regularly cleaned out.

Don’t use the toilet as a rubbish bin

Please don’t put rags, nappies, personal hygiene products or paper towels down the toilet as these products create blockages and can damage the pipes or get tangled up in the pumps. Dispose of these items in your rubbish bin.

Hazardous waste

Waste products such as old paint, engine oil, pesticides and solvents must not be disposed of down the toilet. Hazardous waste should be sealed in appropriate containers and taken to the nearest collection centre to be correctly disposed of.

Rubbish Stations

Don’t plant trees over sewer pipes

Give some thought when planting trees or large bushes in your garden. Because roots extend some distance underground, try to plant trees as far away from the sewer pipe as possible. Choose species that grow slowly and do not have large invasive roots - avoid willows as they have very invasive root systems.

Your local garden centre should be able to give you good advice on which plants to use. 


During wet weather, rain water drains into the sewerage system and if the capacity of the system is exceeded, the wastewater can back-up and overflow from low points within it.

Low lying gully traps and water from roof downpipes are the major causes of stormwater getting into the sewerage system. Our on-going sewer inspections are identifying potential problems and helping to reduce stormwater inflows.

You can help by making sure there is no direct connection of stormwater to the sewer pipe (e.g. down pipes into the gully trap or low lying gully traps).

We record all sewage spills that occur within the district including wet weather and storm events.

The records show the start and finish date of the spill, location, estimation of the quantity, cause, the public health risk as assessed by Northland Health Board’s Medical Officer and also the action taken.

Pump stations are managed by us and can fail for a number of reasons including blockages, power loss or mechanical breakdown.

The loss of a pump station causes wastewater to back-up in the gravity system. All pump stations have warning systems, which alert the operators of failure. As a back-up, pump stations are also fitted with a loud audible alarm and or a flashing orange light.

If you hear or see these alarms, please contact us immediately.

A septic tank connected to a soakage or drainage field is used in areas where there is no connection to Council's sewer.

Property owners are responsible for organising and paying for maintenance of their system. 

Proprietary systems, such as Biocycle or Natural Flow Systems, must have a maintenance contract with the service agent approved by the manufacturer. Regular cleaning and maintenance by a qualified contractor will ensure a septic tank system will last for many years. 


Drainage firms are charged a fee per cubic metre (1,000 litres) of wastewater discharged into our Kioreora treatment plant for processing.