Sediment in waterways is a major risk to our water health according to Healthy Land and Water – an independent organisation that monitors waterways in South East Queensland.
The Environmental Protection Act 1994
The Environmental Protection Act 1994 protects the environment and ensures that development is sustainable and improves the quality of life.
Under the Act it is against the law to put any contaminant into water or in a place where it could wash into a gutter, stormwater drain or waterway.
Contaminants may include:
- plant material
- building and construction materials.
Penalties may apply if you don’t take reasonable measures to stop contaminants from entering waterways or roadside gutters.
These penalties include:
- on-the-spot fines
- prosecution and court penalties.
Penalties can apply to both individuals and corporations.
Reasonable measures to stop contaminants entering waterways or roadside gutters include:
- preventing visible erosion
- managing stormwater flows to prevent erosion
- catching sediment before stormwater moves off the site.
Controlling erosion and sediment on building sites
More than 85 percent of sediment lost from urban areas occurs during building activity. Sediment loss can be reduced through good site management.
Good site management during construction can:
- conserve topsoil, which is important for growing plants
- protect downstream waterways from the harmful impacts of too much sediment
- reduce impacts that wet weather can have on building timeframes and costs.
More information about erosion and sediment control is available from the following organisations:
- International Erosion Control Association
- Healthy Land and Water
- Department of Environment and Science.
Stormwater drainage on private properties
Property owners are responsible for managing stormwater drainage and surface water on their properties.
If you manage stormwater drainage and surface water, you will minimise the threat of surface water entering your home during heavy rain.
Property owners need to make sure that roofwater and stormwater complies with plumbing and drainage regulations and is drained to one of the following:
- kerb and channel
- an inter-allotment roofwater pipe system
- Council-controlled drainage easement or drainage reserve.
Natural surface water runoff
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 for surface water flowing naturally from their land to lower land owned by a neighbour.
The downstream property owner is responsible for protecting building structures on their property. This can be achieved by installing private drainage when:
- the natural contours are sloping
- surface water is being concentrated, diverted or redirected to other property.
Water run-off should be directed towards the street or a drainage system, if available.
Sustainable stormwater management
New urban developments often include artificial lakes and wetlands. This is part of a design concept called water-sensitive urban design (WSUD).
The artificial lakes and wetlands become part of a network of features designed to manage stormwater runoff. They help to prevent stormwater pollution in downstream waterways.
Handing over water-sensitive urban design assets
About 12 months after developers complete a development they hand over to Council any assets created – including water-sensitive urban design infrastructure. We then take over responsibility for managing these assets.