Drainage Lateral

This policy change could save you thousands of dollars:

Drainage laterals: WCC should take back responsibility!

Late last year a resident in my Eastern Ward was hit with a bill of $20,000 to repair a sewage pipe (lateral) that ran under the road to connect with the main sewer. Currently the responsibility to have this sort of damage repaired is the homeowners which I believe is unjust, I want the council to deal with its residents fairly.

Who knows how the portion of these drains that lie in public space under roads and reserves sustain damage. It could be by heavy traffic, road repair crews or tree roots on council reserve, or the pipes were just old when the responsibility was passed to the homeowner back in 2005.

The chair of councils environment committee agreed with me and council officers were asked to review the policy and I am pleased to say it looks like we are moving in the right direction on this.

This week Wellington City Council’s Environment Committee will consider a proposal that the Council accept ownership of, and responsibility for, the repair and renewal of private sewerage laterals where they cross roads and road verges.

The committee will be asked to agree to seek Council approval to take over ownership and responsibility for the portion of wastewater service pipes (laterals) in road reserve.

The proposed laterals policy change has other benefits too. Council will be better able to manage repair and upgrades of these pipes, it would also be good for the health of harbours, beaches and streams, further eliminating cross contamination between sewer and stormwater pipes.

The proposal would reverse a decision in 2005 by the City Council to make property owners responsible for the whole length of the lateral – from the house or building to the point where it joins the Council ‘main’ (usually under roadway on public land).

There will be a shared cost to the policy though and you will be able to have a say on the proposal as part of the 2016-17 Annual Plan consultation from late March.

Background Info:

  • Wastewater service pipes - technically called laterals - are pipes that connect the plumbing in a building to public sewer mains.

  • Some 44,000 of the 64,000 laterals in Wellington City have a portion in road reserve. Some 215 kilometres, representing 15 percent of the total length of laterals, are in road reserve (the remaining 85 percent is in private property).

  • The Lateral Policy 2005 I believe is unfair because:

    • Most damage to wastewater laterals in road reserve comes from the roots of ‘Council’ trees in the road reserve, wear and tear, and work by the Council or other organisations on other utilities or, for example, road repairs.

    • Working to repair laterals under roadways is costly for private owners as it requires traffic control measures.

    • Property owners have little to no control over damage in the road reserve.


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