The suburbs and surrounding areas of Brisbane have been built on a low lying flood plain vulnerable to water inundation. Storms, heavy seasonal rain and flooding are a natural part of living in Brisbane and Brisbane City Council is committed to reducing the risk of flooding in our city.

During the January 2011 flood, some parts of Brisbane were affected by water which came up from the river through the drainage networks and into our streets. This is referred to as backflow flooding.

Between July 2011 and May 2012, Council conducted technical investigations to look at the feasibility of installing backflow devices in areas where backflow flooding occurred. The investigation was required as these devices are not suitable in all situations.

A backflow device is designed so that water flows in one direction through piped stormwater systems and minimises water flowing back up stormwater pipes. Backflow devices are effective at preventing stormwater flooding in certain circumstances, but there is no guarantee of full flooding protection. While these devices reduce the chance of backflow flooding, they cannot prevent other forms of flooding.

Backflow devices are one of many flood mitigation tools and strategies that Council is considering to help protect Brisbane from the impacts of flooding. The wider flood risk management strategy also considers the role of planning measures to assist in managing all flooding risks in Brisbane.

Investigations into backflow

The investigation into the feasibility of backflow devices along the length of the Brisbane River was completed in 2012.

The technical investigations were carried out in two stages:

  • Stage 1 - Pre-feasibility Investigation
    • pre-feasibility investigation for implementation of backflow prevention technology in the three case study areas of the CBD, Rosalie/Milton and New Farm
    • a city-wide desktop review of other affected areas along the Brisbane River
  • Stage 2 - Technical Investigation
    • developing detailed designs for the implementation of backflow devices in the three case study areas of the CBD, Rosalie/Milton and New Farm. Construction is complete
    • investigations along the length of the Brisbane River to determine stormwater systems that contributed to backflow flooding in the January 2011 floods and that could be retrofitted with backflow devices.

Installation of backflow devices

The installation of backflow devices on the pre-feasibility sites was completed in 2012.

12 further stormwater systems were identified as high priority sites for backflow device installation and the construction was completed in June 2014.

Future works: (remaining backflow devices) other feasible systems will be considered in Council’s future drainage program, which is subject to Council's annual budget and citywide priorities.

Find the location of backflow device installation sites

Consultant reports

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Download the consultant reports Stage 1:

Download the consultant reports Stage 2:

Summary Report

Download the:

More information

For more information, you can:

  • phone Council on 07 3403 8888
  • write to:
    Brisbane City Council
    GPO Box 1434
    Brisbane Qld 4001
Last updated:7 May 2019