Water, waterways and natural environment - event sustainability guidelines

Brisbane’s waterways are important for our environment, economy and livelihoods and provide important habitat for many animals and plants.

Use this page to help protect our water, waterways and natural environment as part of your event planning.

Drinking water, waterways and stormwater drains

This table includes guidelines for drinking water, as well as protecting our waterways and keeping stormwater drains for rain only.

Water resource Guidelines
Drinking water

Provide drinking fountains or water stations for refilling water bottles and include the locations on electronic maps. Refill stations are available from some event hire companies.

Promote the use of reusable water bottles over single-use bottles.


Position food and other high-waste areas away from waterways to prevent rubbish entering them.

Ensure recycling and general waste bins are readily available and limit the use of plastic packaging.

Request vendors take away their packaging waste and unused items such as serveware.

Clean up the site/venue after your event, leaving no litter or waste other than in appropriate bins.

Stormwater drains

Keep stormwater drains just for rain. Most stormwater drains don't treat water so it is piped straight into local creeks, the Brisbane River and eventually, Moreton Bay.

Do not put anything other than water down drains, including oils and chemicals.

Erosion control

Where possible, position traffic areas to minimise sediment flowing into waterways during wet weather. Vehicle and pedestrian traffic could degrade the land surface and create mud, erosion and water flow issues.

Minimise water use

Implement these measures to minimise event water use:

  • use a broom, brush or rake to clean outdoor paths and paving
  • use non-potable water to clean hard surfaces if needed
  • choose venues and locations with dual-flush toilets and water stations
  • arrange for water leaks to be fixed as soon as possible once identified.

Did you know recycling materials conserves water? Processing materials into new products needs less water than making products from raw materials. For example, producing paper from recycled material needs 99% less water than if produced from raw materials.

Use balloon alternatives

Helium balloons (when released) and non-helium balloons (when they become litter) can harm animals and damage our waterways. Latex balloons, though more biodegradable and less harmful than plastic balloons, still cause environmental damage as they can harm animals if consumed and are often tied with strings or plastic clips that do not decompose. The ideal environmental solution is to not use balloons for your event. Balloon alternatives include:

  • air-dancers 
  • kites or pin wheels made from reused/recyclable and degradable materials
  • face painting
  • drumming
  • bubbles
  • decorations such as paper lanterns, bunting paper, pom-poms, streamers, colourful light-emitting diode (LED) lighting
  • reusable signage/banners/flags.

More information

Learn about the following event sustainability guidelines topics:

Last updated: 10 May 2019