In Australia when it rains, it pours. These large volumes of rainwater and stormwater can often course havoc with our infrastructure and surrounding waterways. As such, itâ€™s useful to know who is responsible for stormwater drains in your state or territory when things start going wrong.
What is stormwater?
Stormwater refers to all the runoff water that falls onto your land when it rains and flows down your gutters, drainpipes, driveways, and finally public pits and waterways.
This is different from rainwater which is only the runoff that falls on your roof and enters your guttering systems.
Responsibility for stormwater drains by the state
The general rule is that stormwater pipes and drains are the responsibility of landowners, while the local council is responsible for the water runoff once it leaves your property. Although, there are different stipulations around different states and territories within Australia.
In New South Wales, Local councils have the responsibility to manage stormwater drainage systems from public land (e.g., public parks and roads), private land which pays council rates, or other forms of land such as the Departments of housing properties. However, there are fees attached to these services, which vary for residential land, commercial land, and strata units.
If water from neighbouring property is entering yours and is likely to cause damage to your property, there are a multitude of ways to address and fix the issue including dispute resolutions, council aid, and legal action. Learn more about this in our article Water runoff from your neighbourâ€™s property.
Council regulations and development approvals
Among differing state stipulations, different councils also have different rules and regulations when it comes to the landownerâ€™s stormwater responsibilities, this may include the construction and installation of Onside stormwater detention tanks (OSDs). These are now mandatory for many new builds and developments.
For more information on mandatory responsibilities read our article Onsite Stormwater Detention Tanks (OSD) â€“ Mandatory reporting and responsibilities
For strata or commercial facilities, a maintenance agreement for periodic stormwater maintenance and management is often required. Check out our article Stormwater Maintenance for Strata Communities.
In Australia stormwater travels through a different system to Sewage. This is because stormwater goes into the ocean untreated. This means that if any pollutants get into the stormwater ways, they will cause damage to the ecosystem.
Individual action can help to ensure our system stays clean. Keeping deep-rooted trees on your land, installing rainwater tanks, and avoiding the use of solvent-based paints are all ways to help protect our ecosystems.