Stormwater Pollution

Image of leaves gathered at a stormwater drain

Runoff from urban areas flows into the stormwater system and into our creeks and waterways. If it is contaminated with pollutants it can harm fish and other aquatic organisims, make the water unsuitable for swimming, boating and other recreational activities, and destroy the visual amenity of our waterways. 

Under the Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 it is an offence to pollute any waters. ‘Pollution’ includes introducing anything (eg. dirt, litter, wash water, oil, detergent, paint, etc.) into water. It also includes placing anything where it could be washed, blown or fall into any drain, gutter or waterway. 

Offenders are liable to maximum penalties of up to $250,000 for individuals and $1,000,000 for corporations. On-the-spot fines can also be issued for minor offences.

Preventing Stormwater Pollution

In the garden

  • Rake up leaves and lawn clippings and put them on the garden, compost them or put them in your green waste bin
  • Don’t blow leaves or lawn clippings into the street gutter
  • Sweep gutters and driveways regularly and put the sweepings on the garden or in the bin
  • Install edging around garden beds to stop soil or mulch from being washed off the garden
  • Don’t stockpile soil, compost or manure in areas where it could wash into the stormwater system
  • Don’t overuse fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides and follow the label directions
  • Grass or re-plant areas of disturbed soil.

In the street

  • Don’t drop litter on the ground
  • Pick up dog droppings and put them in the bin
  • Don’t leave rubbish in bins that are already full
  • Don’t wash bins out in the street - wash them on the grass.

When maintaining the car

  • Don’t wash the car with detergent in the street - wash it on the grass or take it to a car wash where the water is recycled
  • Repair any drips or leaks
  • Don’t work on the car where oil or coolant could runoff into stormwater drains
  • Don’t pour used oil or coolant down drains - take it to a facility where it can be recycled.

When renovating the home

  • Install erosion and sediment controls before earthworks start
  • Store stockpiles of soil, sand or gravel away from stormwater drains and cover the stockpiles to prevent erosion
  • Don’t wash out cement mixers or barrows where the wash water could flow into the street gutter or stormwater drains
  • Wash paint brushes and rollers on the lawn
  • Re-use turps once the paint has settled
  • Allow unused paint to dry out and put it in the bin.