Sewage surge swamps Sylvania

Getting to the root of the problem: Sylvania rsident Mark Topple has had an ongoing battle with Sutherland Shire Council over this tree which he says has been planted on the sewer line. Picture: John Veage
Getting to the root of the problem: Sylvania rsident Mark Topple has had an ongoing battle with Sutherland Shire Council over this tree which he says has been planted on the sewer line. Picture: John Veage


 Sutherland Shire Council has said it will remove the tree in Chester Street, Sylvania, after inspecting the sewer line.

“Sydney Water carried out a thorough camera inspection on Wednesday 30 November which determined that the tree has shifted the manhole shaft creating a gap for root invasion,” a council spokesman said.

“The old brick shaft needs to be reconstructed and the tree will be removed by Council to enable that to take place.”


Sylvania residents are suffering repeated incidents of raw sewage surging into their homes from blocked sewer lines.

Chester Street resident Mark Topple blames a tree planted by Sutherland Shire Council on top of a sewer line on the footpath outside his home which has caused sewage to flood his downstairs bathroom.

Mr Topple has lived in his house since 1988 and said that blockages occur every 18 to 24 months.

He has records since 2011 of Sydney Water job numbers each time a blockage and overflow occurs.

The worst incident was at Christmas 2013 leaving his downstairs bathroom full of sewage.

“I was Christmas night and we actually had people staying in the bedroom downstairs. It was a nightmare,” he said.

The latest incident on November 1 saw raw sewage squirting out of the manhole adjacent to the tree and leaking down into the stormwater drain.

“It affected two other property owners in the adjacent street when their homes were flooded with raw sewage after Sydney Water unblocked the main on my footpath,” Mr Topple said.

His neighbour, Louis Rizzo, who lives on the corner of Warwick and Chester streets experienced a sewage surge in his home on November 1.

“I was in the kitchen preparing a meal when I heard a gurgling noise coming from the bathroom,” Mr Rizzo said.

“I went and investigated and saw there was water with dark matter gurgling out of the shower and bath.

“My neighbour next door had his entire garage floor covered in raw sewerage.

“There was another incident on Monday, November 21 where we had sewage water spurting out of the toilet, shower floor grate, bath waste pipe and the floor waste.

“I noticed a truck down the road with workmen putting what looked like a high pressure hose down the water main.”

The problem occurred again on November 29 with strong odours coming from the bathroom drain.

Mr Topple said Sydney Water and Sutherland Shire Council have both denied responsibility.

“I reported it to Sutherland Shire Council and they just fob me off by stating the council will not be removing the tree as it is an asset to the local streetscape and clear of the residence,” he said.

“The facts are there is a 30-metre plus tree on my footpath which was planted right on top of a sewer line.

“Sydney Water has records going back to 2006 of blockages being recorded.

“When I talk to Sydney Water they say it is not our issue, it  is a council tree and they should deal with it.

“Why are the council trying to fob the issue onto Sydney Water?

“Why does the council feel it is a Sydney Water issue when they planted the tree in the first place and accept no responsibility for it?

“I think Sutherland Shire Council should be taken to court and fined for continually ignoring this matter.”

Sydney Water will inspect the pipes that it manages in the street, using CCTV camera, to identify any potential faults and arrange repair, a Sydney Water spokesman said.

“Homeowners are responsible for maintaining the pipes that are on their properties,” he said.

“Generally Sydney Water doesn’t communicate with councils to remove trees, unless they are greatly impacting on our wastewater system.

“It is the customer’s responsibility to communicate with council to have a tree removed that impacts on their property.”

In regards to tree planting and the wastewater system, Sydney Water has prepared a document for our customers “How you can help stop blockages”.

It can be found at:


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