About our wastewater

What is sewage?

All used water that goes down either the toilet or sink is referred to as sewage or wastewater. Sewage is 99.97% water as the majority of it comes from showers, baths, toilets and washing machines.  The rest is dissolved and suspended matter.

Where does our sewage go?

All of our used water doesn't just disappear, it travels through our sewage system to a sewerage treatment plant.  We have four major sewerage treatment plants in our region, to treat the sewage that we produce.

How is sewage treated?

At the sewerage treatment plant, the sewage goes through a series of processes that remove the pollutant materials, resulting in two end products - treated wastewater and biosolids.

The treated wastewater is returned back into the environment.  At our facilities, the wastewater can be treated to a standard where it can be reused as irrigation on cane farms and golf courses.

The biosolids produced from sewage can also be reused as a low grade fertiliser or soil conditioner.

For more information about our sewerage treatment plants, visit the Infrastructure page.

What are the causes of sewer blockages?

A blockage occurs in a sewer pipe when the flow is inhibited by material inside the pipe. The main causes of sewer blockages are:

  • Flushable wipes and baby wipes
  • Fat and grease - this solidifies in the pipe
  • Foreign objects that are placed down the drain, such as sanitary items and children’s toys
  • Tree roots that have found their way into the pipes
  • Cracks or breaks in the pipework.

How do I protect my home from a sewage blockage and overflow?

  • Only flush human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. Put other items such as baby wipes and sanitary items into your red/green lidded bin.
  • Don’t put food scraps, oil or cooking fats down the sink. These can solidify when they cool and cause blockages. Instead wipe pans with a paper towel and throw into the bin.
  • Don’t bury sewer access pits (manholes) under gardens, driveways or lawn.
  • Don’t plant trees over the sewer pipes as the roots get in and cause blockages.

Items you should never put down your toilet or sink:

Item

Correct disposal method

Cooking oil and grease

Small amounts: Can be wiped off with paper towel or put it into your compost bin.

Large amounts: Refer to recycling services in the local directories.

Chemicals (such as paint, cleaning products, pesticides, weed killers)Refer to recycling services in your local directory for licensed operators. he Paget Waste Management Centre accepts up to 100 litres of unwanted paint per visit, in containers of 20 litres or less.

Food waste

Home compost/worm farm or general red/green lidded bin

Wet wipes (even if they say flushable)

Place in your green/red lidded bin

Feminine hygiene products like tampons and sanitary pads

Place in your green/red lidded bin

Condoms

Place in your green/red lidded bin

Cotton buds

Place in your green/red lidded bin

Paper towel

Place in your green/red lidded bin

Nappies

Place in your green/red lidded bin

Unused medicines

Please return to your local chemist

Engine oils, diesel, petrol and degreasers

Less than 20 litres is accepted at the Paget Waste Management Centre.

Needles

Place in an approved sharps container and dispose of at your nearest public sharps disposal bin e.g. pharmacy.

Food stickersPlace in your green/red lidded bin

Don’t block your pipes, bin those wipes

Did you know that ‘flushable wipes’ do not break down in the sewerage system? They may flush away from view, but they are not bio-degradable like toilet paper. Wipes clump together and cause significant blockages, which may result in a sewage overflow and possibly cause damage to pumps. Regardless of what the packaging says, please always bin your wipes.

Check your overflow relief gully

Overflow relief gullies (ORG) are located outside of your home. If the sewerage main or property service house drain becomes blocked, the loosely fitted grate on the top of the ORG is designed to pop off completely to allow the sewage to escape outside, rather than inside your home.

Property owners should check their overflow relief gullies regularly to ensure they are properly fitted and operational.

For more information read our overflow relief gully fact sheet.

Sewer drain connections - our responsibilities and yours

The sewer and sewer manholes that a house drain connects to are the responsibility of Mackay Regional Council.

The house drains are the responsibility of each property owner and they need to be maintained to ensure that stormwater and groundwater doesn’t enter the sewerage system.

For more information download the house drain connection fact sheet.

What do I do if my property’s sewer pipes are blocked?

Please call council on 1300 MACKAY (622 529).

Council will investigate a complaint in relation to a blocked sewer and advise the affected property owner/s where the blockage is i.e. in the sewer or the house drain.

Blockages that are found in council’s sewerage system and not the house drain are the responsibility of council and will be cleared by council employees or contractors.

If the issue is on private property, you will need to organise a plumber to rectify the problem.