Water that is unable to enter the underground drainage system will find its natural way to the nearest watercourse via overflow paths. These overflow paths are typically roadways, public reserves, pathways and often through flow through private property.
You must maintain the stormwater pipes, gutters, downpipes, gully pits and any other components of your approved stormwater system on your property in good condition and in compliance with any council requirements. You are required to accept natural overland flow from adjoining properties or public land. To put it more simply, if you are downstream, you must accept the ‘natural’ run-off on to your property. If there is an easement on your property it must be maintained and kept clear of debris to allow the natural flow of stormwater.
If the property has a stormwater installation such as roof gutters, downpipes, subsoil drains and stormwater drainage for the premises, Council may direct the property owner to connect to Council’s stormwater drainage system, if available and practical to do so. 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.
Legal points of discharge
There are three ways of connecting stormwater to a legal point of discharge:
- Roof and surface water is conveyed to the kerb and channel;
- An inter-allotment drainage system in accordance with Australian Standard AS/NZS 3500.3.2: 1998 (Clause 1.8).
- Where grade does not permit the stormwater to be piped to a system of inter-allotment or subdivision drainage or the street channel, via an underground pipe , a bubbler outlet of at least three (3) metres from the downstream side of building foundations and no closer than three (3) metres to any property boundary must be installed .
Overland flow between private properties usually occurs when:
- The natural contours are sloping;
- A site has been excavated to build a concrete slab, eg. cut and fill style construction;
- Landscaping can change the topography of a property and the way it sheds water. Ideally, run-off should be promoted towards the street, or to a drainage system if provided. An upstream property owner cannot be held liable merely because surface water flows naturally from his land on to the lower land of a neighbour.
Disputes between neighbours
Problems with overland stormwater flow between neighbouring properties are 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.
It is illegal to discharge pollutants such as concrete, paint, oils and pesticides into the sewerage and storm water drainage system. This also means it is illegal to pour harmful chemicals down the sink.
Council officers undertake inspections of building sites and investigate all complaints concerning the discharge of pollutants into the storm water drainage system. Anyone caught discharging pollutants into the city's drainage systems will be issued with an on-the-spot fine. Residents can also be fined for doing the wrong thing. Next time you are cleaning your paint brushes, make sure you don't let the water run into the drainage system. This also applies to oils and chemicals.
Safety awareness around stormwaters
Queensland weather is unpredictable in the summer storm season and our region is just as susceptible to the severe weather and flash flooding as the coastal areas. Driving through flooded roads can be fatal. Here’s why:
- Even though it may appear that the water level is low enough for your vehicle to get through, chances are it isn't. it takes just 30 centimetres of slow flowing water to wash away any type of car, even a four-wheel-drive.
- Pot holes and sunken debris that can tear at your vehicle
- It is very easy to stall in rising water, increasing your chances of being swept away
- Causeways can collapse and roads can be washed away in seconds, without warning
If you get stuck or see someone else in difficulty in a flash flood, phone the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service on 000 immediately.