Stormwater pollution, runoff and drainage complaints

As a result of Brisbane’s climate and topography, issues with stormwater runoff can be a common problem for Brisbane City Council residents. Pollution, flooding and nuisance issues from stormwater runoff can result in environmental harm, damage to property and distress to residents.

Smoke testing

Queensland Urban Utilities (QUU) performs smoke testing. This identifies damaged or illegally connected stormwater connections to the sewerage system.

Making a complaint to Council

Council investigates water pollution discharged to the city's waterways and catchments. Soil, sand, silt and mud are released either directly, or through roadside gutters and stormwater drains.

Everyone should employ correct stormwater management. You can do this by ensuring the quality of your property's stormwater runoff meets downstream environmental values and water quality objectives.

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 $1 million.

You can make a complaint to Council if you see sediment, building waste or plant matter entering the stormwater system or waterway.

How to lodge your complaint

Council requires the following information to investigate a complaint:

  • your name, address and phone number (Council keeps this information confidential)
  • the date, time and source address of the issue.

Phone Council on 07 3403 8888 to make a complaint.

Other complaints and civil issues

Council also responds to complaints about nuisances and flooding as a result of illegal or incorrectly constructed buildings 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:

  • 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 water collects and becomes stagnant)
  • pool overflow caused by rainfall.

Existing rubble pits:

  • are a lawful point of discharge (provided they are designed and constructed lawfully)
  • become overland flow when they overflow
  • are not acceptable lawful points of discharge for new developments or lot reconfigurations.

Council recommends you take the time to talk to your neighbours about any flooding problems you have. In many cases, neighbours can work together to reach a resolution to satisfy everyone’s needs.

Disputes resolution

For information on disputes resolution, read 'settling disputes out of court' on the Queensland Government website.  

Private stormwater lines

Council does not maintain private stormwater lines.

Council encourages property owners with houses built prior to 1975 to drain their stormwater to a suitable lawful point of discharge such as the kerb and channel. It is not a requirement of Council unless the site is redeveloped or the integrity of the 'grey line' is compromised and alternate drainage is sought.

For houses built after 1975, Council requires stormwater 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. Look up building certifiers 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

For new developments or reconfiguration of an existing lot, you must ensure a lawful point of discharge is used for stormwater. This means the stormwater pipe connects to a drain taking water away without causing nuisance flooding for neighbours.

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. 

Last updated:15 May 2019