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Drainage and Stormwater

Owners' Responsibilities

Land owners are required by law to maintain the stormwater pipes, gutters, downpipes, stormwater pits and any other components of their approved stormwater drainage system. They must be kept in good condition and in compliance with any Council requirements. For more information, contact the Victorian Building Authority.

Owners are also required to accept natural overland flow from adjoining properties or public land and must not divert or redirect the flow from its natural path onto neighbouring properties.

A downstream property owner can't erect any type of barrier that interferes with the path of stormwater unless provision is made for the flow to discharge to an approved drainage system. If you are downstream, you must accept the ‘natural’ run-off onto your property.

When constructing hardstand (hard surfaced) areas like driveways, concrete and paved areas, landscaping and any other impervious surfaces or drains, you must control the stormwater to prevent concentrated flows onto the adjacent property.

Stormwater Responsibilities

New homes

If you are building a new home please check with your builder that:

  • Surface and soakage drains have been installed to protect rooms and garages built below ground level;
  • Surface drains and paths are diverting overland stormwater away from the building, especially the building entrances; and
  • Driveways built on the topside of buildings do not concentrate stormwater towards the building. If so, ensure adequate drainage is provided.

These problems are easier to fix before the work has been finished.

Legal Point of Stormwater Discharge

There are two ways of connecting to a Legal Point of Stormwater Discharge:

  • Roof and surface water is conveyed in pipes to Council’s stormwater infrastructure.
  • Connection to a Council approved drainage system in accordance with AS/NZS 3500.3.

If neither is available, a stormwater absorption trench or pit may be installed with the approval of Council. You must lodge a Stormwater Discharge Point Application (below), plan and fees with Council for approval, before starting any work.

A Road Occupation Permit is also required for any new connections to Council’s drainage network and for any work within road reserves.

Stormwater must not discharge to the sewer. Penalties may be imposed for a breach of this requirement.

On-site Detention Requirements

On-site Stormwater Detention systems, where fitted, must be maintained so they function in accordance with the approved design.

Responsibility for Stormwater - Private Land

Council receives a number of complaints each year regarding stormwater run-off and overland flow from private land causing a nuisance to an adjoining or downstream property. In these cases Council’s intervention powers are very limited. For further information, contact the Victorian Building Authority.

Stormwater from Developments

If the flow is coming from a property under development, your concerns should be directed to the Building Surveyor assessing the development. Silt and stormwater control is a condition on all building permits.

Disputes Between Neighbours

Problems with overland stormwater flows between neighbours are generally a civil matter to be resolved between the respective land owners. Respective land owners should discuss the situation to try to find a mutually agreeable solution. If a solution is not reached, the matter can be referred to the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria (DSCV) for mediation.

Further Information

A useful guide for those interested in stormwater problems https://www.catchmentsandcreek...

For more information about drainage and stormwater, please contact Council on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211. You can also contact the following authorities:

Victorian Building Authority
General Enquiries
Goods Shed North
733 Bourke Street
Docklands VIC 3008
Hours: 8.30am to 5.00pm
PO Box 536
Melbourne VIC 3001
Ph: 1300 815 127
Fax: (03) 9618 9061
Web: www.vba.vic.gov.au/plumbing

Department of Justice and Community Safety
General enquiries
Ph: (03) 8684 0000
Ph: 1300 365 111 (regional callers)
GPO Box 4356
Melbourne VIC 3000
Web: www.disputes.vic.gov.au

Council’s responsibility

Council provides roads and drainage systems to collect and convey stormwater to creeks and rivers, and it also maintains the stormwater mains owned by Council on private property.

Council may direct a property owner to connect to Council’s stormwater drainage system or other legal point of discharge, if available and practical to do so.

The Victorian Water Act 1989 makes provision for the control of stormwater and Council may issue property owners with a written notice if they are in breach of this Act.

Raingardens

Raingardens are becoming more common in new estates being constructed. Bass Coast Shire Council and Melbourne Water officers have put together a fact sheet about raingardens and how to manage them.

If you have any further queries, please contact The Infrastructure Maintenance Team on 1300 226 278 (03) 56712211or basscoast@basscoast.vic.gov.au .

Driveways

If you construct a driveway on public land, you must ensure that drainage along the road is not disrupted. The land owner is responsible for all damage caused to driveways from local flooding. You may also be required to apply for a Road Occupation Permit.

Run-off from Public Land

You may experience drainage problems when stormwater runs off public land or roadways and forms ponds or flows through your property. All of these enquiries should be directed to our Customer Service Team on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211.

Water Flowing from Adjoining Property

Natural Overland Flow

Natural Overland Flow is water that flows across properties before any excavation, development or building on the land has taken place.

An upstream property owner cannot be held liable merely because the surface and seepage water flows naturally from the land onto the lower land of a neighbour.

The upstream owner may be liable if the water is made to flow in a more concentrated form than would occur naturally. Runoff should be directed to the street or to an internal drainage system if provided.

Concentrated Overland Flow

Concentrated overland flow is water that flows from hardstand (hard surfaced) areas, such as driveways, paths, paved areas, landscaped areas roofs, drains from roofs, open drains and cut-off drains.

Owners must consider the consequences of water run-off when constructing hardstand areas which may impact on the property below and cause damage to the land or buildings on the land.

Seepage Water (Ground Water)

Seepage water is the responsibility of individual property owners and should be controlled by installing seepage drains. Where sloping blocks have been excavated to obtain a flat yard or building site, seepage drains should be constructed to redirect water to a stormwater drainage system.

Stormwater Drainage - Frequently Asked Questions

What stormwater drainage pipes am I responsible for?

Each property can be or has been allocated with a location to direct their private stormwater drainage. Typically, this location will be to a Council underground drain, to the kerb and channel or an open roadside drain. This discharge location is known as the Legal Point of Discharge/Connection. All drainage issues beyond this point of connection are the responsibility of Council.

All drainage infrastructure related to the drainage of private properties up to the Legal Point of Discharge/Connection is the responsibility of the property owner. It is important that the property owner understands that sections of pipe in the nature strip or road reserve that discharge stormwater to the point of connection to the Council drainage system is property owners responsibility.

The property owner is responsible for ensuring that storm water pipes are connected to the Council nominated Legal Point of Discharge/Connection and that their stormwater runoff does not affect other property owners.

The stormwater drainage pipes on my property are blocked. What should I do?

If you suspect there is a blockage in one of your drainage pipes, we recommend you contact a licensed plumber to investigate.

I have an issue with sewer pipes on my property. Who can I call?

Your responsible water authority should be contacted for any issues relating to sewer pipes. The sewer system carries waste water away from your laundry, kitchen, bathroom and toilet to a main sewer that is maintained by either Westernport Water or South Gippsland Water, depending on the location of the property.

Where do I connect storm water from my property if there is no Council drainage system?

It is not uncommon for some older residential areas to not have a direct connection to public storm water drainage system. In these cases, properties most likely drain to soakage pits (otherwise known as rubble pits or soak away) or private drainage lines. The maintenance of soakage pits lies with the property owners they serve.

If there are persistent problems with storm water runoff in your area there are two options for residents to consider:

  • Drainage infrastructure can be installed to service your property through a drainage scheme, where the design and construction of the drainage is fully funded by the property owners it services, and the ongoing maintenance is the responsibility of Council, as the drainage becomes a Council asset.
  • You can construct a private drainage system. Council must approve a private system, but the installation and ongoing maintenance of the system is the responsibility of the property owner.

Any storm water management system should not cause adverse effects to adjoining properties, and consideration should be given to issues such as neighbouring buildings in close proximity to the property boundary and capacity of overland flow paths.

You should contact Council to determine the closest legal point of connection for your stormwater or for further advice relating to a future drainage scheme.

Stormwater is entering my property from a neighbour's property. Who is responsible and what can I do?

All property owners have a legal obligations to capture, collect and dispose of stormwater from all hard surfaces, through underground pipes to the Council nominated Legal Point of Discharge/Connection so as not cause a nuisance to adjoining property owners.

In general, your neighbour is responsible for controlling stormwater run-off from their property. Water flowing from hard surfaces, such as paving or roofing, should be collected and discharged in an approved manner. Your neighbour is not responsible for controlling stormwater run-off from natural surfaces, such as grassed or treed areas. Any excess stormwater water caused due to significant landscaping works must also be controlled.

Problems with overland stormwater flow between neighbouring properties are generally a civil matter to be resolved between the respective owners and Council generally has no legislative powers to intervene. The type of action you should take depends on the cause of the stormwater.

Stormwater issues may include:

  • Overland stormwater flows caused by damaged or missing downpipes, guttering, or overflows from a rainwater tank
    If your neighbour's downpipes or guttering are damaged or missing (not blocked), or if your neighbour has failed to connect the overflow of a rainwater tank to their underground stormwater system, you can report this matter to Councils Building Department. Notwithstanding the above, we recommend trying to talk to your neighbour first to make them aware of the issue. You may find this leads to a quicker and more amicable resolution to the drainage issue.
  • Overland stormwater flows caused by new landscaping, paving or concreting
    If your neighbour has recently completed landscaping, or installed new paved or concreted areas that have redirected or caused water to flow onto your property, this is a civil matter. Council can't control how your neighbour landscapes or paves their property, as these activities don't require Council permits or approval. You should try to discuss the matter with your neighbour first to reach a mutually suitable solution. If this doesn't work, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1300 372 888 for a non-legal mediation service, or take legal action through a solicitor. Liability arising out of the flow of water is an offence under the Water Act Section 16.
  • Overland stormwater flows caused by the installation of a small shed (under 10m2)
    If your neighbour has recently erected a small shed causing water to flow onto your property, this is a civil matter. Council can't control how your neighbour builds structures of this size as they do not require a building permit. You should talk to your neighbour first and try to reach a mutually suitable solution. If this doesn't work, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1300 372 888 for a non-legal mediation service, or take legal action through a solicitor. Liability arising out of the flow of water is an offence under the Water Act Section 16.
Who is responsible for drainage controls on a building site?

Individual builders are responsible for management of stormwater on a building site during construction. Builders should put in place temporary measures to prevent surface water flooding other properties when a building is under construction. Roofs without guttering or downpipes connected are the usual cause. If the builder has not put in place suitable measures to prevent flooding, you will need to take your own legal action.

Complaints about buildings under construction should be directed to the builder or building surveyor whose contact details are shown on the building sign at the front of the property. These details could also be sought from Council's Building Department on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211, or by emailing basscoast@basscoast.vic.gov.au.

Who is responsible for groundwater seepage into my property?

Groundwater and groundwater seepage are considered natural occurrences and the property owner is responsible for making provisions to manage this water.

What is an On-site Storm Water Detention (OSD) system?

An OSD system is designed to restrict the flow of stormwater from a development site to a rate equal or less than the pre-developed site conditions.

All new developments within Bass Coast, particularly unit developments, create an increase in hard surface areas resulting in a higher volume of run-off being discharged into Council's existing drainage system. The existing drainage system was not designed to cope with the increased volume of run-off.

An OSD system is required as part of all new developments across Bass Coast to limit stormwater flow rates to pre-development levels. Stored flows are released slowly thus not increasing the overall rate of discharge to maintain the designed capacity of the pipes.

What is a one in 100-year storm event?

Storms are classified using historical rainfall data and statistical probability. A one in 100 year storm event is a storm with characteristics that are only expected to occur on average once every 100 years. Naturally with any statistical probability, there is a possibility that multiple events could occur in much shorter succession. We could receive multiple 100 year storm events in consecutive years. In fact a 100 year storm has a one per cent probability of occurring in any given year. For further information, visit the Bureau of Meteorology website.

Why does Council's drainage systems struggle during heavy rainfall?

Council's underground drainage system design was based on industry best practice at the time of installation. For much of the municipality, this is identified as a one in five year storm frequency. As such, the underground drainage system should be able to contain up to 80 per cent of the rainfall events that occur during any year. However, during storm events that exceed this probability it is expected that the capacity of the Council stormwater drainage network will be exceeded and overland flows will result.

During extreme rainfall, these overland flows may result in flooding of roads and properties. Properties in low lying areas and natural gullies are most at risk from overland flows. Property owners are encouraged to keep overland flow paths clear of objects that will obstruct the overland flow of water increasing the risk of inundation to habitable areas.

The Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES) is the control agency for flooding in Victoria. VICSES are responsible for planning for floods, and for managing flood response if they do occur.

If you believe that your property is under threat from flood waters, you should contact the Victoria State Emergency Service on 132 500 from anywhere in Victoria for flood, storm, tsunami and earthquake emergency.

For life-threatening emergencies call Triple Zero (000).

Experience shows those who plan and prepare for emergencies can reduce the impact of the emergency, and can recover more quickly afterwards. Taking the time to think about emergencies and making a plan helps you to think clearly, have a greater sense of control, and make better decisions when an emergency occurs.

The open table drain at the front of my property is in a poor state. Who do I call?

Council is responsible for the maintenance and repair of open earth (table) drains in areas where underground drainage isn't provided. Maintenance enquiries regarding open drains should be referred to Council's Customer Service Team on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211, or by emailingbasscoast@basscoast.vic.gov.au.

The pipe under my driveway is blocked. Who's responsible for its maintenance?

Any sections of pipe within an open drain or underneath private driveways or vehicle crossings, including the driveway or vehicle crossing, are the responsibility of the property owner.

Under Schedule 10 of the Local Government Act, Council may require the mandatory maintenance and replacement of these piped sections at any time if they are deemed to be causing a restriction to the flow of water in the open channel, or do not meet Council's minimum standards.

The Council storm water pit in my street is blocked. Who do I call?

Blocked storm water drains can be reported to Council's Maintenance Team. Requests can be lodged with Councils Customer Service Team on 1300 BCOAST (226 278) or (03) 5671 2211, or by emailing basscoast@basscoast.vic.gov.au.

The water supply main at the front of my property has burst. Who do I contact?

The mains water supply is the responsibility of the local water authority; Westernport Water or South Gippsland Water depending on your property location within Bass Coast Shire.