Operators prepare for smoke testing.

Unitywater crews will be undertaking a series of assessment tests of the Sunshine Coast’s wastewater pipe network between August and December, by pumping artificial smoke through the network to check for any breaks or openings that could allow stormwater to enter and impact the reliability of the essential service.

Designed to safely contain waste produced by homes and businesses, the wastewater pipe network can overflow into private properties and the environment if overloaded by large and sudden volumes of rainfall that should be directed to the separate stormwater network.  

Unitywater Executive Manager Sustainable Infrastructure Solutions, Dan Lambert, said residents may see the non-toxic smoke coming from maintenance holes in the street or pipes on residential roofs, which can indicate non-compliant connections to the wastewater network.

“We’re carrying out testing in suburbs that have recently experienced overflows, which can be an indicator that there is an entry point in the network that needs to be addressed,” Mr Lambert said.

“The testing checks for issues in our Unitywater infrastructure as well as private plumbing and crews are getting it done five months ahead of summer so there is time for repair work to be completed before the storm season.

“The wastewater network is designed to handle some increased capacity in wet weather but not the huge volumes of stormwater we can experience in our region.

“In the worst case, a sudden surge in flows in the wastewater network could cause an overflow back up into your home, which is a mess that no one wants to be faced with.  

“Smoke testing helps identify where additional stormwater enters the wastewater network and our crews can work to fix this and keep services flowing as smoothly as possible.”

Mr Lambert said that where issues with residential plumbing were identified, including stormwater pipes incorrectly connected to the wastewater system, Unitywater would advise residents about what needs to be fixed.

“We let customers know at least 14 days before the testing if we require access to their property, give them a courtesy doorknock on the day and advise them what they need to do to resolve any issues with their private plumbing.

“Issues can be found when renovations or new house builds are completed and by ensuring their plumbing is up to scratch, they can avoid some smelly, messy issues for themselves and their neighbours,” Mr Lambert said.

The wastewater network testing will take place from August – December 2023 in the following suburbs:

  • Aroona
  • Battery Hill
  • Buddina
  • Buderim
  • Caloundra
  • Currimundi
  • Dicky Beach
  • Golden Beach
  • Kings Beach
  • Moffat Beach
  • Parrearra
  • Shelly Beach
  • Tanawha
  • Warana
  • Wurtulla

For more information, visit Unitywater’s Wastewater Network Testing page.

Featured image: Operators preparing for a smoke test. Image credit: Unitywater.

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