Maintaining your service

We all have responsibilities

Property owners are generally responsible for maintaining their own pipes and equipment up to where they connect to our services. Water mains and meters are usually our responsibility. But there may be overlap, and you may share services with other properties.


What you need to maintain

Property owners are responsible for maintaining water and wastewater pipes and equipment up to where they connect to our systems. This includes:

  • private water and wastewater pipes and fixtures
  • backflow prevention devices
  • pumps used to boost water pressure in private water pipes
  • flow restriction devices on low pressure water services
  • wastewater pumps, tanks and other equipment (unless we have an additional services agreement with you that says we'll maintain it)
  • trade wastewater treatment equipment
  • fire services
  • private water mains and extended private services that connect to our main with a  long private pipe because the property doesn't have direct access to our water main
  • A private pipe that serves more than one customer and is laid in another customer's land without an easement.

You must also keep our water meter free from damage and make sure we have access to read, maintain or replace it. Find out more about your meter.


What we'll maintain

We own and maintain the water main (usually under the street or footpath) and the water meter at your property. As a courtesy, we may fix the section of your water pipes between our water main and your meter for free. We'll only fix pipes that are less than one metre inside the property boundary.

We won't do free repairs on:

  • extended private services 
  • unauthorised connections
  • fire services
  • inaccessible services
  • services where the damage was deliberate or negligent.

We'll maintain the junction, or the point where your wastewater pipe connects to our system. If your wastewater pipe has to drop steeply into our wastewater main, it's called a 'vertical'. We'll maintain any part of your vertical that's deeper than 2.5 metres from the surface.

We won't maintain any other part of your wastewater pipes, unless it's stated in an additional services agreement we have with you.


Who manages non-standard services

Joint services

You have a joint service if your water or wastewater pipe also serves other properties. Each owner who shares a joint private service is responsible for it. Joint services are more common in old parts of Sydney, such as terrace housing developments or very old industrial areas.  

If you think your property has a joint service, talk to your neighbours about engaging a private plumber to understand which neighbouring properties share your service. Once you understand this, you'll need to discuss:  

  • maintenance arrangements for the shared service, including access to private property
  • how you'll share maintenance and repair costs.

To disconnect the shared service from our water supply entirely, you need agreement in writing from all properties connected to the service. 

To disconnect your property from the shared service, contact a licensed plumber. They'll arrange:

  • disconnection from the shared service
  • new connection to our network. 

Email connections@sydneywater.com.au if you need to discuss disconnections and reconnections.

Read our Connecting to Sydney Water systems policy (291KB) if you're planning to connect to or disconnect from our systems. To understand your rights and obligations when you're connected to our systems download our Responsibilities of connected customers policy (358KB).

Encroaching services 

You have an encroaching service if your private pipe crosses another property to connect to our mains. 

Customers who benefit from encroaching private services are responsible for maintaining and repairing them. This includes the cost of any repair work – even when the pipe is in another person’s property. 

If you have an encroaching service, talk to your neighbours to:

  • understand which properties your service crosses
  • negotiate reasonable access to their property to maintain and repair the service.

If you own a property that has someone else's private service pipes on it, talk to your neighbour. Make sure you both agree on reasonable access to maintain or repair pipes.

Extended private services 

Extended private services are more common in rural and bushland areas. 

You might have an extended private service if:

  • your water meter is a long way from your property
  • access to your property is from a minor lane or road that doesn't have a water main along it
  • there are no hydrants along your road (indicating there may be no water main).

An extended private service may serve a single property or multiple properties. 

If you have an extended private service, you and those who share the service are responsible for the costs of maintaining it. 

If the pipe or meter is on public land, contact your council to find out if you need any permits before you start work to install, maintain or replace your extended private service. 

Leaks in extended, joint and encroaching services

If there's a leak, surcharge or blockage in a joint or encroaching wastewater service, the responsible owners must repair it as soon as possible to prevent health hazards and harm to the environment. 

If an encroaching wastewater service is leaking in your property, contact the owner and ask them to fix it immediately. You may have to give them, or their contractors, access to your property to fix the problem.

Your local council may take action under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 if leaking wastewater is not stopped as soon as possible. 

If there's a leak in a joint or encroaching water service, the responsible owners must repair it as soon as possible. Leaking services pose a threat to our network. If the leak is not fixed in a reasonable time, we'll disconnect your supply.

Managing disputes
Try to negotiate a solution to land access and cost sharing issues with your neighbour. If negotiation isn't effective, NSW Community Justice Centres provide free mediation services to help people reach an agreement. If you still can't reach an agreement, you may be able to gain an order from your Local Court under the Access to Neighbouring Land Act 2000. You may wish to get your own legal advice about this.


Who's responsible for what

Our Customer Contract (6MB) contains a number of system diagrams. These show typical responsibilities for maintenance of authorised connections to our water and wastewater system. These diagrams are illustrative only and should not be relied on for any purpose other than to help you to understand our Customer Contract.

Drinking water system

This is the most common set up for a drinking water connection on an individual property. It shows the typical maintenance responsibilities for this type of system. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Drinking water system.

Gravity wastewater system

This is a typical wastewater system within our network. Most properties in our area of operations have this type of system but this is a simplified illustration of the layout. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Gravity wastewater system.

Recycled water system

This is the most common set-up for a recycled water system if you're in a Sydney Water recycled water area. This diagram also shows the drinking water system. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Recycled water system.

Privately owned pressure wastewater system

This is a typical set-up for pressure sewer systems, where the customer owns the system. These systems generally exist connected to a Sydney Water owned pressurised wastewater main but the system on the property is owned and maintained by the property owner. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Privately owned pressure water system.

Sydney Water owned pressure wastewater system

This is a typical set-up for pressure sewer systems, where we own the system. As with the privately owned systems, these are generally connected to a pressurised wastewater main. There are some responsibilities that fall on the owner. However, Sydney Water owns and maintains part of the system on the property. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Sydney Water owned pressure water system.

Sydney Water owned vacuum wastewater system

This is a typical set up for vacuum wastewater systems, if you're in a Sydney Water vacuum system area. Similar to the pressure wastewater systems above, these systems are part of a pressurised wastewater main. Click on the image to view a larger version.

Vacuum wastewater system


Do you have a question about your connection?

Contact us for help.


Will your business have trade wastewater?

Apply for permission before you discharge trade wastewater. 


Extended private services

A connection to our main that's made with a long length of private pipe because the property doesn't have direct access to our water main.

Joint

A private pipe that serves more than one customer.

Encroaching

A private pipe that is laid in another customer's land without an easement