The responsibility for maintaining and repairing wastewater pipes that carry wastewater from the house or business to the council main is shared between the homeowner and the Council.
In Christchurch there are three types of wastewater (sewerage) systems - gravity, pressure and vacuum. Most of the properties with a wastewater service are using the gravity system.
If you are not sure which system you are in and you would like to know you can enquire at the Council on (03) 941 8999. A description of how each system works can be found below.
Pipe ownership and maintenance responsibilities
- For all three systems the Council owns and is responsible for all wastewater pipes, tanks and laterals, on public land, i.e. from the front boundary of a house on a public street to the front boundary of the house on the opposite side of the street.
- All wastewater pipes on private property protected by an easement in favour of the Council are owned and will be maintained by the Council. This is usually the main, plus the connections of any laterals to the main, and the portion of lateral covered by the easement (approximately 1 metre in most cases).
- Wastewater gravity mains owned by the Council which are installed in private land or a Right of Way (ROW), with or without an easement in favour of the Council, will be maintained by the Council. This is usually the main, plus the connections of any laterals to the main, and approximately the first metre of lateral.
- Pressure wastewater tanks, pipes from the tanks, control panels and boundary boxes, installed on private land by SCIRT (Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team) for the Council between 2011 and 2017 as part of the Earthquake rebuild work are owned and maintained by the Council.
- Pressure wastewater tanks, pipes from the tanks to the road (not the pipe from the house to the tank), alarm boxes and boundary boxes, installed where at the time of subdivision the property was in a wastewater constrained part of the City. These are generally in one-off places, and surrounded by properties with gravity connections. If you think you may have one of these you can enquire with the Council.
- Pressure wastewater tanks, pipes from the tanks to the road (not the pipe from the house to the tank), alarm boxes and boundary boxes, installed in larger subdivisions where the pressure wastewater was agreed as the best wastewater solution for serving the subdivision, e.g. Highsted, Upper Styx, Highfield, North Halswell, South Halswell, South East Halswell, South West Halswell and Hendersons Residential New Neighbourhood areas.
The property owner
Some gravity mains on private land are privately owned. They are installed within an easement, and used only by those parties named in the easement documents. They are owned by and will be maintained by the named parties at their expense and effort. These easements are usually set up and agreed upon at the time of property subdivision.
Wastewater gravity laterals on private property that serve one property are owned and maintained by the owner of the property that they serve. If the lateral drains across another property, access to the lateral for repairs should not be withheld by the owner of the other property, but they should be approached prior to any repair.
Wastewater laterals that serve more than one property have a shared responsibility for ownership and maintenance. The property at the start of the line owns and maintains the first section of lateral until it is joined by the next property, at which point it becomes shared between the two properties. As extra properties join they are added to the ownership and maintenance from the point at which they connect.
Pressure wastewater, the lateral (pipe) from the house to the tank is owned and maintained by the property owner.
Some pressure wastewater tanks and associated pipes and control panels are privately owned and maintained. Examples of this are tanks installed by the owners for properties on the extremes of the Christchurch wastewater network for which there was no other way of servicing them, groups of properties which were on septic tanks but were since provided a pressure main in the street for the properties to connect to, houses downhill of wastewater mains so the wastewater required pumping up to the main.
What to do if you suspect you have a blockage or your wastewater doesn’t drain away
Please choose the type of system you are connected to from the list below for advice on what to do if you have a problem with your wastewater.
Finding out the rights and responsibilities specific to your property
Your solicitor should have advised you of your rights and responsibilities when you purchased the property. The Certificate of Title to your land should show the ownership of the wastewater pipes and other services in your property, including those in any easement, such as a Private Lane or Private Right of Way.
Most lanes are privately owned – if you live in a lane but are unsure whether it is a private or public road, you should check the Certificate of Title to your land, which clearly marks the boundary between private land, public land and common land. You can also enquire with the Council.
Titles can be ordered through Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) online. Their website has step by step instructions on how to do this.