The DrainWise programme is about working together with property owners to help fix problems with wastewater and stormwater drains.

Too much stormwater is still getting into our wastewater network during heavy rain. This causes wastewater (sewage) overflows into our rivers, private property and the sea. The main cause is illegal spouting connections, broken gully traps on private properties and property flooding topping gully traps.

We’ll work with property owners to inspect and assist homeowners and educate residents about fixing issues with gully traps, downpipes and underground pipes in their homes.

Our DrainWise programme (launched in 2016) aims to reduce wastewater overflows onto properties and into our city's rivers to one every two years. We currently average about 2 per year and have not exceeded 4 per year.

During intense or heavy rainfall, some parts of the city's wastewater network are inundated with rainwater (stormwater) and the network can’t cope with the volume of water.

To prevent wastewater from overflowing onto private properties and out of manholes onto roads – which can cause significant health risks – we must release the excess water. The only way to do this is to open valves and discharge the wastewater and stormwater into the river. The discharge is highly diluted with rainwater, but there’s still a risk to health.

We only open the valves when it’s absolutely necessary and only in the areas with issues.

Our city’s river water quality is significantly impacted by wastewater discharged into our rivers, particularly during wastewater overflow events.

This results in health risks for our residents that use our rivers, beaches, and the sea. If we have wastewater overflows on private property, this then affects the health of that home.

Our DrainWise programme has been set up to reduce these health concerns, working together with property owners and the community to help fix the wastewater and stormwater problems that cause the overflows.

The programme consists of:

  • Wastewater network upgrades and renewals – $17.2m over 10 years
  • Stormwater public network extensions – improving public drains on private land - $6m over 10 years
  • Property inspections and investigations– checking and making minor repairs, giving advice, collecting data - $4m over 10 years
  • Compliance and enforcement – making it easy and affordable to fix the issues
  • Education and awareness – promoting good practices, campaigns like “Only Flush the 3 Ps”
  • Free minor gully trap repairs.

We’ll continue with CCTV investigations and smoke-testing to identify connections between stormwater and wastewater, and remedy these, or ask homeowners to implement the fixes.

2021-2031 Long Term Plan

Additional capital expenditure has been requested to increase emergency storage at pump stations and progress renewal of wastewater pipes faster than planned.

In addition to public works, the programme requires property owners to fix problems with their wastewater and stormwater drains to stop rainwater flowing into sewer pipes.

We’ll continue to work with property owners to inspect and assist homeowners and educate residents about fixing issues with gully traps, downpipes and underground pipes in their homes.

We need to work together

Council owns and manages 50% of the wastewater network. The remaining 50% is owned and managed by individual property owners, the responsibility lies with them to ensure they don’t leak.

Our inspections of underground private pipes have shown that about half are in a poor condition and leaking. When these pipes leak, they let rainfall into the sewage system which then struggles to cope, leading to overflows during heavy rains.

Ensuring the privately-owned underground sewage system isn’t leaking will help reduce overflows.

We are legally responsible for the wastewater network (for example, pipes and manholes) outside the property boundary. Homeowners are responsible for everything inside their property boundaries (such as pipes and gully traps).

The council-managed wastewater network is designed to accepted New Zealand standards, and under normal conditions would be able to cope with higher wastewater volumes in heavy rainfall events.

The problem in Gisborne is that the amount of rainwater getting into the wastewater network, mostly from private properties, is extraordinarily high.

The team has also established a Drainlayers Forum and a Property Managers Forum, which will be used to get buy-in and support from these key influencers in Tairāwhiti.

These forums, in addition to improved drainage data in Land Information Memoranda (LIMs), will enable improvements to also be driven from within the private sector.

How its paid for

  • $4.3m capital expenditure is forecast for work on private property and $5.3m will be spent upgrading the stormwater network in priority catchments.
  • Operational budgets for DrainWise (including water supply and stormwater budgets) are $3.8m over the 2021-2031 Long Term Plan.

The project is 100% Council funded. We’ll take on debt to fund the work each year, and increase rates to pay it back over time. We’ll also continue to look for alternative funding to do more.

DrainWise videos and resources

Get to know your gully trap

Mike Hall, a local Gizzy plumber “getting to know your gully trap…you’ll prevent a whole lot of pollution on our properties and our rivers”.

DrainWise - Get to know your gully trap

Only Flush the 3 Ps - pee, poo and (toilet) paper

Nick reminds us about what we should and should not flush down the toilet. Blocked wastewater pipes can cause sewage back-ups in your home or overflow into our city's rivers.

DrainWise - Only flush pee, poo and toilet paper down the toilet

Sinks aren't rubbish bins

Check out these fatbergs!  Dianne has a few tips on what should go in the bin, not down the sink and block our sewage system. How simple adjustments to what we do in the kitchen can make a world of difference to our pipes and save our rivers and the ocean.

DrainWise - Sinks aren't rubbish bins

Healthy water, healthy community

When water isn't draining right - it's not healthy for your family, your home or our rivers and beaches.
Here's information on what you can do. If you have flooding issues on your property.
Fill in our online property flooding form

DrainWise - Healthy water = healthy community

Stormwater and wastewater don't mix

It's important that we all understand the different water networks so we can all help prevent sewage discharges into our rivers. We have separate networks for stormwater (rain) and for wastewater (sewage).

DrainWise - Keep stormwater and wastewater separate

Download our resources