Wellington Scoop

Raw sewage overflows in Woodward Street

Sewage was overflowing on the corner of Woodward Street and Lambton Quay late this afternoon.

Wellington Water said its team were “working to unblock the pipe and clean up the area.” And it warned: please avoid Woodward Street if you can.

At 5.30:

We have made good progress making the site safe and directing foot and vehicle traffic away from the area. We have stopped the discharge of wastewater and disinfected the footpath and road affected. We will now use CCTV to investigate the cause of the discharge.

Then at 9pm:

We have completed flushing the stormwater main of any possible debris and excess wastewater. The CCTV investigation of the wastewater main shows no signs of the network having been damaged from the debris. We will monitor the site over the weekend and return early next week to do some further detailed investigation of the wider catchment. A reminder not to rid any construction waste or ground materials into the wastewater system.

The DomPost reported that a manhole cover had popped open on Woodward Street and a steady stream of yellow-coloured liquid was running onto Lambton Quay. The sewage has a strong odour and is covering a footpath.

DomPost editor Anna Fifield tweeted

Oh hey, my inbox is lighting up with reports on the sights and smells on Woodward Street right now — raw sewage running down onto Lambton Quay.

RNZ reported that Wellington City Council spokesperson Richard McLean said it was a relatively small flow cause by a pipe blockage. “It’s a small overflow, I mean it’s absolutely disgusting and I’ve seen some video and footage of it and it’s not something you want to see when you’ve just had your lunch but, you know, we’re working on it.” He said it was probably caused by a mini fatburg or tissues.


  1. the cool iona, 25. June 2021, 17:31

    People are walking into the street on Lambton Quay to avoid this – just saw a near miss with a bus. [via twitter]

  2. Philip Matthews, 25. June 2021, 17:34

    Convenient for a Covid sample, I guess.

  3. Toni, 25. June 2021, 18:18

    And WCC wants to cram thousands more people into the city before getting the pipes fixed! In the future more likely to be mandatory Gumboots not masks – unless of course you can’t stand the smell.

  4. Andy Foster, 25. June 2021, 21:51

    Can we be clear that this was nothing to do with the condition of the pipe, and on this occasion it is not a reasonable link to make to the ageing pipe network (which for the first time in 150 years we are fully funding renewals so we get on top of the job)

    I stopped in to talk to the Wellington Water team doing great work here this evening, and thank them for the job they do. That’s indeed what they do – in all weathers and at all times. They’d cleaned the gunk out and were running a camera up the pipe to see if they could locate the source.

    Have a great weekend and stay safe

  5. Henry Filth, 26. June 2021, 9:36

    It’s a lot to do with the condition of “the pipe” if “the pipe” blows a manhole cover open in the course of normal day-to-day use. Good on the Wellington Water team. Thank you. Now, how about a pay rise as a tangible expression of support?

  6. Anna Fifield, 26. June 2021, 10:00

    Didn’t realise my job would involve reviewing photos of raw sewage on the sidewalks, deciding on the line between illustrating a serious problem and putting people off their breakfast. No photos in the paper, lots of photos online. Enjoy. [via twitter]

  7. GK, 26. June 2021, 14:14

    Henry Filth: Agree that condition of the pipe was a problem but I think THE distinction Andy is trying to make is thAT IT was blocked rather than broken. Blockages are often caused by the ignorant or inconsiderate flushing or pouring stuff down the sewer that they’re not supposed to.

  8. TrevorH, 26. June 2021, 15:45

    The “Golden Mile” takes on new meaning. Perhaps it should be made a canal, but not necessarily of the alimentary kind.

  9. Lynn Chapman, 26. June 2021, 17:19

    People continue to flush wet-wipes down the toilet. Last year in lockdown, the manhole in our garden popped up causing sewage to spew out over native plants, lawn and pathways. The smell alerted us, then the sight! A large team arrived and pumped the sewage out (wet-wipes) then disinfected the entire area. They gave us LOOKS but we never use wet-wipes. Just remember wet-wipes do not dissolve in the sewer, they just CLOG IT. It was disgusting.

  10. Wellington Water, 29. June 2021, 16:06

    Some of you may have seen the wastewater overflow on Woodward Street and Lambton Quay last week, but do you know what caused it?
    Building and construction material was dumped into the wastewater network, blocking up the pipe and causing it to overflow.