Stormwater issues

Find out what you can do about nuisance water flowing over your property after heavy rainfalls, commonly called  'stormwater'.


Resolving stormwater issues

Step 1.Is the waterflow 'natural'?

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. 

If your property is downstream, or downhill, you must accept the natural run-off on to your property from adjoining properties or public land. You can manage and protect your property by installing private drainage. However you must not divert or redirect the flow from its natural path on to neighbouring properties or erect any type of barrier that interferes with the path of stormwater.  

Step 2.Is there a problem with the stormwater system?

Stormwater nuisances from existing buildings often occur due to the age and repair of the system (e.g. faulty downpipes, blocked drains or gulleys) or following damage.

City of Coffs Harbour (City) may direct a property owner to repair a defective stormwater system.

Some very old buildings may not have been required to be connected to a stormwater system at the time of their construction.

We may direct a property owner to connect a building or structure to the City's stormwater drainage system and that run-off be directed towards the street or a drainage system, if provided.

Where no City drainage is available we may seek the installation of measures designed to detain and spread the water over a wider area.

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

We may recommend that agreement be sought between neighbours to arrive at a shared solution for the control and disposal of the water.

Step 3.Stormwater disputes between neighbours

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

If you're 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.

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

Step 4.Construction issues

If stormwater issues are being caused during the construction of new buildings, complaints should be directed to the builder 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. The certifying authority is responsible for instructing the builder to comply if a builder fails to address a problem.