Stormwater pollution, runoff and drainage complaints

Soil down driveway and in kerb and channelAs a result of Brisbane’s climate and topography, pollution, flooding and nuisance issues from stormwater runoff can be a common problem for many Brisbane residents resulting in environmental harm, damage to property and distress to residents.

Smoke testing

Queensland Urban Utilities supported by Brisbane City Council will be performing smoke testing to identify stormwater connects that may be damaged or illegally connected to the sewerage system.

Making a complaint to Council

Brisbane City Council investigates water pollution resulting from the release of sediments (such as soil, sand, silt, mud) discharged to the city's waterways and catchments, either directly or through roadside gutters and stormwater drains.

Everyone should employ correct stormwater management to ensure that stormwater runoff originating from their property is of a quality that ensures downstream environmental values and water quality objectives are protected or enhanced.

If a person or company does not take appropriate erosion and sediment control measures, they can receive on-the-spot fines. Prosecution and court penalties for major development and environmental offences may exceed one million dollars.

If you see sediment, building waste or plant matter entering the stormwater system or waterway, you can make a complaint to Council and the issue will be investigated.

Lodging a complaint

If your complaint is handled by Council, you will need to provide:

  • your name, address and phone number - this information is kept confidential
  • issue description - the date, time and source address

To make a complaint:

Other complaints and civil issues

Council can also respond to complaints relating to nuisances and flooding as a result of illegal or incorrectly constructed building and structures.

Water flow problems caused by the natural lay of the land, or from overland flow, are a civil matter. If you have an issue with any of the following, you should first speak to your neighbour:

  • water flow problems caused by natural ground seepage on private property
  • diverting or blocking the natural flow of water from landscaping, fences and walls or a small trench except where the water collects and becomes stagnant
  • existing rubble pits are a lawful point of discharge provided they are designed and constructed lawfully. When they overflow it becomes overland flow. Rubble pits are no longer accetped by Council as acceptable lawful points of discharge for any new developments or lot reconfigurations
  • pool overflow caused by rainfall

Council recommends you take the time to talk to your neighbours about any flooding problems you may be experiencing. In many cases, a resolution can be reached to satisfy everyone’s needs.

Disputes resolution

If you wish to formally manage discussions, you may also consider contacting the Disputes Resolution Centre. The centre offers free advice and mediation services and can be contacted on 07 3239 6007. 

Private stormwater lines

Private stormwater lines are not maintained by Council.

Houses built prior to 1975 are encouraged to drain their stormwater into a more suitable lawful point of discharge such as the kerb and channel. It is not a requirement of Council unless the site is under redevelopment or the integrity of the grey line has been compromised and alternate drainage is sought.

For houses built after 1975, Council requires stormwater to be managed in an approved manner (e.g. directed to Council stormwater mains, kerb and channel).  For regulations on stormwater connections, contact an accredited building certifier.  Building certifiers can be found in the Yellow Pages under 'Building Surveyors'.

It is important to keep stormwater drains clear at all times to help prevent storm damage and flooding.

It is not ideal for stormwater to drain into greywater lines or directly onto the ground.

Lawful points of discharge

When undertaking a new development, or if you are reconfiguring an existing lot, you must ensure that you manage your stormwater by using a lawful point of discharge. In simple terms, this means the stormwater pipe has been connected to a drain which will take the water away without causing nuisance flooding for surrounding neighbours.

You can download a factsheet to help you determine what is an acceptable point of discharge:

Guidelines and permits

You must obtain a permit from Council if you are connecting to:

  • Council’s stormwater drainage
  • the kerb and channel

Check the guidelines for using or closing a road or footway for forms and more information on how to apply.