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.
Council investigates water pollution discharged to the city's waterways, catchments and bay. Examples include soil, sand, silt, mud, building waste, concrete, paint, green waste, and car, roof or driveway cleaning runoff that are released either directly, or through roadside gutters and stormwater drains.
Prosecution and court penalties for major development and environmental offences may exceed $1 million.
Urban Utilities performs smoke testing. This identifies damaged or illegally connected stormwater connections to the sewerage system.
Report stormwater pollution, runoff and drainage complaints
You can report non-urgent ESC issues online if you see contaminants entering the stormwater system or waterway.
Alternatively, if your request is urgent, phone Council’s Contact Centre on 07 3403 8888.
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.
For information on disputes resolution, read 'settling disputes out of court' on the Queensland Government website.
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.
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:
- Connecting to Council's stormwater system - information for developers (PDF - 663kb)
- Connecting to Council's stormwater system - information for neighbours (PDF - 663kb).
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.
Find out more information about Water Pollution, including factsheets designed to assist businesses undertaking:
- pet hydro bath or mobile dog washing units
- car washing
- carpet cleaning
- steam and high-pressure cleaning
- brick and paver cutting
- aggregate driveway laying
- roof cleaning or recoating.