Smoke testing assessing suburban sewers

Date published: 14 November 2019

Townsville City Council is making great progress in its program to smoke out any problems in suburban sewers.

Teams are currently half way through a three-month program, assessing the sewerage systems in Railway Estate, South Townsville, Hyde Park, Pimlico, Townsville City, West End, Railway Estate, Mysterton and Hermit Park.

Townsville Water and Waste Committee Chair, Councillor Russ Cook, said the smoke is highlighting any illegal connections, substandard plumbing or potential defects in the system.

“The program tests the system thoroughly and we have authorised staff inspecting every property in the nominated suburbs,” Cr Cook said.

“The program is going very well so far this year – we have already found hundreds of defects and illegal connections.

“Smoke is pumped into the system and if it emerges in unusual places, like beneath the pavement or blockwork, it indicates there is a potential fault.”

Residents will be asked to fix any faults at their property and they could face hefty fines if they don’t address the issues.

“It’s important for any defects to be fixed as soon as possible so we have less issues in the next big rain event – we’ll have fewer sewer overflows, less blocked pump stations and we’ll reduce other problems downstream of these properties,” Cr Cook said.

Cr Cook said people shouldn’t panic if they see smoke in their home.

“If smoke comes into a house, the residents may need to fix a toilet seal or a broken water trap,” Cr Cook said.

“There could also be other problems that need the attention of a licenced plumber.

“I think it’s important to highlight this smoke is not a health risk – it’s based on food oil and will clear if people open their doors and windows.”

Cr Cook said residents will be contacted before their properties are tested.

“We don’t want to alarm people so Council will advertise in the paper and put notices in letterboxes 24 to 48 hours before officers need to enter their yard,” Cr Cook said.

“We’ll ask residents to secure their dogs so our officers can enter their property.”

Council officers will also look for broken house drains or any other issues that may allow stormwater to enter the sewerage network.

Residents with any questions about the smoke testing program can call Council on 134 810 during business hours.