Stormwater Drainage

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Stormwater Drainage

Both Council and land holders have a range of responsibilities when considering stormwater drainage issues during a heavy rain event. These responsibilities have been outlined in the links below.

Owners have a range of responsibilities, which if carried out correctly, will minimise the threat of surface water causing a nuisance in the event of heavy rain.

Property owners must accept natural overland flow from adjoining properties or public land and must not divert or redirect the flow from its natural path on to neighbouring properties. If you are a downstream property owner you cannot erect any type of barrier that interferes with the path of stormwater.

Property owners generally need to ensure that roof water and stormwater is collected and drained to:

  • Street Kerb and gutter
  • An inter-allotment drainage system
  • Council controlled drainage easement or drainage reserve
  • An approved stormwater detention pit within the property (only IF one of above cannot be achieved)

The owner is responsible for the ongoing maintenance and repair of the stormwater pipes, gutters, downpipes, gully pits and any other components in good condition and in compliance with any Council requirements.

The AS/NZS 3500.3:2003 Plumbing and Drainage Part 3: Stormwater Drainage is the applicable standard used for stormwater system design and installation.

If the property owner fails to maintain any part of the stormwater system and it subsequently causes a nuisance to an adjoining property, Council may direct the property owner to undertake such works as are necessary to repair the system and prevent the nuisance from occurring.

The Local Government Act 1993 makes provisions for the control of stormwater, and empowers Council to issue property owners with written directions to undertake such works as are necessary to address an identified breach of this Act.

A nuisance being caused by overland surface water flow from one property to an adjoining property is generally a civil matter to be resolved between the respective owners. Council has limited powers to intervene.

Complaints about buildings under construction that are subject to a current approval should, in the first instance, be discussed with the property owner or the builder. The property owner is ultimately responsible for ensuring the development complies with all conditions of the approval.

The builder will generally be responsible for all works being undertaken on a new development and will have responsibility to ensure that all stormwater works are undertaken and maintained to prevent nuisance to adjoining properties. In the event of a nuisance being caused the building certifying authority also has responsibilities to ensure that the approval conditions are being complied with. The certifying authority has a responsibility to use compliance directions to instruct the builder to comply with the approval in the event that the builder fails to address a problem.

Council will generally request that any complaints be directed to the builder or the certifying authority to address the matter in the first instance.

Contact names and phone numbers of the builder and the building certifying authority are required to be displayed on the front of the property.

Stormwater nuisances from existing buildings generally arise due to the age and repair of the system or following damage however, some very old buildings may not have been required to be connected to a stormwater system at the time of their construction.

Council may direct a property owner to repair a defective stormwater system or to connect a building or structure to council's stormwater drainage system where available and practical to do so.

There are situations where council has no power to intervene.

This can occur due to the age of the building or, when there is no constructed council drainage within the specified distance, or site conditions are not suitable (e.g. the property slopes downhill and away from the street, and there is no inter-allotment drainage network at the rear of the property). Council may seek the installation of measures designed to detain and spread the water over a wider area in order to minimise a nuisance being caused by concentrated flow from a piped discharge. Council may also recommend that agreement be sort between neighbours to arrive at a shared solution for the control and disposal of the water.

Surface stormwater flow that is not from a building or structure is generally a civil issue.

Overland surface water flow between private properties usually occurs when the below applies:

  • The natural contours are sloping
  • Surface water is being concentrated, diverted or redirected on to other property
  • Ideally, run-off should be directed towards the street or a drainage system, if provided.

    Cut-off drains and perimeter banks are also helpful in directing run-off towards the street or into a private drainage system.

    Property owners are required to accept natural water overland flow from adjoining properties or public land.

    Surface water flows to the lowest point. An upstream property owner cannot be held liable merely because surface water flows naturally from their land on to the lower land of a neighbour. It is the responsibility of a downstream property owner to manage and protect the lawfully constructed building structures on their property. This could be achieved by installing private drainage to protect a property.

    Property owners need to be aware that landscaping can change the topography of a property and the way it distributes water.

    To put it more simply, if you are downstream, you must accept the ‘natural’ run-off on to your property. When constructing hardstand areas you must control stormwater in order to prevent it from flowing on to a neighbouring property. It is preferable to minimise the area of water-resistant surfaces such as concrete or paved areas and driveways. If there is an easement on your property it must be maintained and kept clear of debris to allow the natural flow of stormwater to the field gulley.

Problems with overland stormwater flow between neighbouring properties are generally a civil matter to be resolved between the respective owners. Council has limited powers to intervene. Landowners are encouraged to talk to their neighbours about the problem and to seek a mutually suitable solution.

If you are having difficulty resolving an overland stormwater dispute with a neighbour, the Community Justice Centre provides a non-legal mediation service. They may be able to assist without the need for expensive legal proceedings. They can be contacted on 1800 671 964.

Finally, you can seek legal advice about the feasibility of taking civil action against the party creating the problem if you feel your property has suffered or been exposed to potential damage.