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.

If you don’t implement appropriate control measures, you can receive on-the-spot fines for breaches of the Planning Act 2016 or theEnvironmental Protection Act 1994.  

Prosecution and court penalties for major development and environmental offences may exceed $1 million. 

Smoke testing

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.

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 and this includes the connection to the kerb and channel via a kerb adaptor or the connection to an existing Council Stormwater pipe or manhole.

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'.

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

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

The requirements for managing stormwater on a site depends on the type of development being carried out. Stormwater management systems, including those for dwelling houses, must be to the satisfaction of Council. This can be achieved by implementing a stormwater management system in compliance with the infrastructure design planning scheme policy. Where practical it is recommended that stormwater management systems are connected to a Council stormwater drain or road, either on the site or through a neighbouring property. Connecting to a Council stormwater drain or road generally provides for the best outcome for the site and neighbouring properties.  

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. 

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Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.