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Email Link   Sewer Manholes

Sewer manholes are access points to Council’s sewer mains. They are used by Council to check the condition of sewers, clear blockages in sewer lines and provide access to investigate and rectify infiltration

Sewer manholes can be located in roads, footpaths, driveways, public spaces and inside private properties. They are generally found where the sewer changes direction and where two or more sewers join together.

Concrete Manhole

Sewer manholes may also be referred to as maintenance holes, access chambers or person holes.

Manholes are considered a 'Confined Space' by Tweed Shire Council. As such, only those authorised by Tweed Shire Council and qualified in confined spaces entry may enter them. Under no circumstance should an unauthorised person open a manhole lid.

Your Responsibilities

Other than Council employees or persons contracted to Council, no person is allowed to conduct work on Council owned sewerage infrastructure (including sewer manholes) unless that person has gained approval under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993 to complete the work.

Council owns and maintains manholes and may need access to a manhole when sewer problems occur or where maintenance is required. Some manholes and sewer mains have Easements over them; however, this is not a necessity.

Residents are responsible for ensuring that access to manholes on their property is available. It should be visible and accessible. If you have a manhole on your property, please don't bury it or put any large object over it. If a manhole in your property is not accessible, Council may direct you to make it accessible or do work on your behalf. In some instances, excavation may be required. For example, if a garden bed has been built over the manhole, Council may direct the property owner to remove it to restore access.

Property owners, builders, developers and consultants must consider services that exist on the land, including the position of manholes and sewerage infrastructure and make sure they remain accessible at all times and are not damaged during construction.

Persons doing any work adjacent to sewer infrastructure should be aware of Council Utilities - Work in Proximity Policy (51kB PDF). Structures found to be built without due consideration of this policy will be considered as illegal in most circumstances.

Council conducts routine manhole inspections to ensure manholes are accessible and visible, not leaking or having stormwater directed into them, not containing tree roots or blockages. The manhole inspections also evaluate the flows received in the catchments to provide information on potential infiltration problems.

Council will take one of the following actions if a property owner/resident has restricted access to a manhole on their property:

Low risk level
Description: Access is not impeded, minor obstruction or clearing needed to regain access to lid.
Example:Demountable shed without structural floor, Garden bed built over sewer.
Action:Council will send a letter to the property owner requesting them to reinstate access to manhole. Council may assist. Alternatively for easy-to-fix lids, Council will carry out the work with verbal notification and leave a notice for the resident regarding the work carried out.

Medium risk level
Description: Buried manholes in private property.
Example:Manholes that are buried by more than 200mm of fill or under concrete slab or driveway.
Action:Council will raise manhole to surface level. Council will pursue the appropriate responsible person to recover the cost of raising the manhole.

High risk level
Description: Permanent structures built over manhole.
Example:Retaining wall, building or footings that do not meet policy requirements or are within an easement.
Action:Any structure within an easement is illegal. Any structure compromising manhole access will be removed at the cost of the property owner. Where it is considered by Council that immediate removal is not necessary, the property owner will be notified in writing. The structure can remain at Council discretion and if Council requires access, Council shall remove the structure or obstruction at that time at the owners expense.
A notation may also be placed on Council's property information system and may be available on a section 10.7 certificate (formerly S149) for future prospective buyers of the property.

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