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What’s the difference between sewer and stormwater drainage?

It may seem like an odd question, but knowing the difference between sewer and stormwater drainage is an important distinction to make for more than one reason. With a huge emphasis on sustainability and eco-friendly options, knowing what is heading down the drain is an important step in helping the environment (and also ensures the plumbing in your home and office has as few issues as possible!). We have therefore put together a little bit of information to help you determine which is which, as well as what the major differences are between a sewer and stormwater drain. If you have any further questions, give Everyday Plumbing a call on 0488 801 008.


Drainage Definitions

Before we begin, it is important that you understand what a few drainage terms mean.


According to the Oxford English Dictionary, effluent is ‘liquid waste or sewage discharged into a river or the sea’. Effluent is the water and other waste particles that flow through the drains in our community and out into our waterways.


Sewage is wastewater from homes, offices, factories and other areas - basically, any water that has been touched by humans. This includes wastewater from your dishwasher, toilet, kitchen sink, bathtub, washing machine and shower (among others). It is interesting to note that sewage is actually 99.8% water!

A typical 4-person household produces around 400–500 litres of sewage every day.


Sewerage is what sewage runs through - the pipes, treatment facilities and pumping stations that both collect and treat sewage. It is also what can get blocked!



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What is sewer drainage?

Sewer drainage is likely something you are familiar with. Sewer drainage is the collection of underground piping that carries all the waste and sewage from your home or office to a treatment plant to be treated before being discharged into our waterways.

What is stormwater drainage?

Stormwater drainage is exactly as it sounds - piping that carries stormwater from one place to another. Stormwater drains have stormwater flowing through them, which is water that has drained off a particular site during or following rain. The rain that falls on roofs, roads, driveways, footpaths and land areas flows into stormwater drains, as well as soil, organic matter, litter, fertilisers from gardens and oil residues from driveways.

What’s the difference between sewer and stormwater drainage?

What flows down the drain! The effluent that flows through a sewer drain is from your home, whereas stormwater drains direct rainwater that runs from a particular area or areas after rain. Additionally, unlike sewage, stormwater is generally not treated before being discharged to waterways and the sea therefore the contents of the drains are sent to different places.

Sewer and stormwater systems are separate from each other, as they are utilised in different ways to carry effluent from different starting points to final destinations.

Everyday Plumbing & Gas

Your qualified Sydney Plumbers

If you have any further questions regarding sewer or stormwater drainage, or would like one of our experts to attend your property, please give Everyday Plumbing a call on 0488 801 008 or complete an online job booking form now. We are the leading plumbing specialists in Sydney, so get in contact today!

Resources :

Australian Government - Your Home (Stormwater) : http://www.yourhome.gov.au/water/stormwater

Government of Western Australia (What is Stormwater?) : http://www.belmont.wa.gov.au/Business/BusinessSupport/Documents/LightIndustry_01_Storm_Water[1].pdf

NSW Government (Waterway Health) : https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/water/water-quality/protecting-and-managing-water-quality/waterway-health

Queensland Government (Queensland Plumbing and Wastewater Code guidelines) : http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/qld-plumbing-wastewater-code-guidelines.pdf

Australian Government - Department of Health (Plumbing) : https://www.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/ohp-enhealth-manual-atsi-cnt-l~ohp-enhealth-manual-atsi-cnt-l-ch2~ohp-enhealth-manual-atsi-cnt-l-ch2.6

Central Highlands Water : https://www.chw.net.au/community/what-sewage

Contact us today.

If you have a serious plumbing, blocked drain or hot water problem, don't wait until its too late.

0488 801 008

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