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Residential Drainage & Stormwater Concerns

Stormwater concerns are common problems for many residents in urban environments. Disputes between neighbours often arise where residents believe that drainage or stormwater arising from a neighbouring property is causing, or is likely to cause damage including flooding.

Private property owners are responsible for maintaining stormwater pipes, gutters, down pipes, gully pits and other components of the residential stormwater drainage system. They are also responsible for ensuring any works completed on their property do not alter the natural overland flow of water in a manner that could cause damage to neighbouring properties.

In an Emergency

For Emergency help in flood events, contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500

Natural Topography & Sloping Blocks

If your residential site and or neighbourhood is sloped, you should be aware that natural surface water runoff will follow the contours of the land, this is called natural overland flow. In most cases, lower properties must accept and manage natural overland flow however, natural overland flow must not be restricted or diverted in manner that will cause damage to adjoining premises.  

If you are concerned about the impact of natural overland flow affecting your property, obtain advice from a suitably qualified plumber on how best to manage this on site.

Talking With Neighbours

Neighbours are strongly encouraged to talk with one another to address any stormwater concerns. Talking with neighbours often results in a more amicable, timely and cost effective outcome.

Where concerns are unable to be resolved directly between neighbours, residents are encouraged to formally manage discussions through the Community Justices Centre. The centre offers free advice and mediation services and can be contacted on 1800 990 777 or through their website http://www.cjc.justice.nsw.gov.au/  

Seepage Water

Where sloping blocks have been excavated to obtain a flat site, seepage drains should be built to redirect water to a stormwater drainage system.

Liaise with neighbours to determine what infrastructure is in place and negotiate an approach to address problems. Advice can be sought from a suitably qualified plumber to identify viable options i.e. It may be possible to establish a drainage easement to direct water to a council stormwater drainage system.

When Council Will Investigate a Concern

All complaints received by Council will be considered on their individual merit, however generally speaking intervention by Council on stormwater drainage complaints is limited to circumstances where it relates to the flow of surface water from one property across the common land boundary onto another property, and all of the following criteria has been met:  

  • The source of the water flow is identified (originating property); and
  • The water flow arises from a man-made structure or drain or works i.e. as a result of defective roof drainage from a dwelling or outbuilding; and
  • Supportive evidence is provided that the water has caused or is likely to cause physical damage to the environment, land or buildings on the other land; and
  • Genuine attempts have been made to negotiate and rectify the concern with neighbouring property owners without success.

When Council Will Not Take Action

On review of a complaint, Officers must consider the applicable legislation and the associated authority available for Council Officer to intervene, which in some cases may not support any action.  

The investigating Officer has the discretion to determine the level of intervention or if it is a matter better settled privately.  

Generally speaking, circumstances where Council’s ability to intervene are limited, or it is not possible include where:  

  • Insufficient information is provided by the complainant to support further investigation
  • The surface water is considered natural run-off from the property or properties due to the topography and it isn’t being redirected in any manner
  • Surface water is flowing down or across existing hard surface areas such as driveways, tennis courts, concrete slabs or paved areas
  • The location of a dwelling or outbuilding impacts on surface run-off
  • Surface water run-off occurs only in periods of exceptionally heavy rain
  • Surface water is a result of overflows from stormwater absorption pits where contours of land and lack of access prevent direct connection of a building’s roof water to the council’s stormwater drainage system.
  • The run-off is from new development work that is the subject of a development consent and has been constructed in accordance with that consent
  • The drainage problem involves discharges from defective or blocked private inter-allotment drainage easement infrastructure eg. pipes and drainage pits

Should an officer deem that no further action or involvement can be taken by Council, you will need to resolve the matter privately and may consider consulting the Community Legal Centre for advice or otherwise pursue private civil proceedings. Should you wish to contact Council to lodge your concerns or discuss these matters further with Council, please call 4993 4100.