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6 Questions Answered About Stormwater Responsibility

by | Mar 22, 2022 | Plumbing

You may not give it a lot of thought, but life would be a whole lot harder messier without stormwater drains. And the sodden mess wouldn’t be the only problem – you’d also risk water damage to your property, foundations, assets, the interior of your home including walls, ceilings and floors, and even your family’s health and wellbeing. It’s vital that, from the tip of your roof to the very point at which the runoff enters the community system on the street, you understand precisely who is responsible for storm water drains.

The answer? It’s you. If your stormwater management is substandard, you’re not just risking your own property, but also those of your neighbours and the wider community. That’s why the local authorities may take full responsibility for your runoff once it hits the community system, but within the bounds of your property, that’s all on you, including your:

  • Gutters & downpipes
  • Drains
  • Landscaping
  • Driveways & paths
  • Rainwater tanks & more.

Even by understanding that, however, it can be difficult to navigate all those stormwater regulations – because they differ from council to council, state by state. As your trusted Melbourne emergency plumbers, we want to make it as easy as possible for residents in Melbourne Bayside and surrounding areas to know precisely who is responsible for stormwater runoff – and what you need to do next.

Storm water drains in backyard – What to know

In Victoria, the way stormwater management is handled is by agreements between the separate local councils, the homeowners and the statutory Victorian authority Melbourne Water. Melbourne Water’s stormwater responsibilities end at the maintenance of the main community drains, while the councils handle just about everything else about public drainage.

As the property owner, on the other hand, you’re responsible for the storm water drains in your backyard and elsewhere within your boundaries. Let’s break it down a little more.

1. Your property’s boundaries

Basically, everything within your boundaries is your responsibility. You must ensure that your runoff is effectively collected and controlled before entering the legal discharge point. In most councils, this discharge point is defined by them.

2. What is your legal discharge point?

Your legal discharge point is determined by the building surveyor, who issued a report when planning permission was granted. Basically, that’s all council keeps records about – the precise location of your stormwater pipes and private drains is not tracked by them.

3. What if you don’t have one yet?

If you need to apply for nomination of a legal discharge point, such as if you’ve made fundamental design changes to your roofline but also certain other aspects of your home and property, it’s done by applying through your council and paying a fee. It should only take 2 weeks to get a response.

4. What precisely are you responsible for?

In a nutshell, it’s your responsibility to properly maintain every aspect of the stormwater infrastructure on your bounds, although sewerage and drainage easements may be excluded. But you definitely need to look after the way your stormwater is flowing from your roof and beyond, all the way to the discharge point. Needless to say, it is also your responsibility to maintain your drainage system to avoid issues like blocked stormwater drains, flooding and water damage that could do really devastating damages.

5. What about neighbouring properties?

You may be thinking ‘I know I’m responsible for the storm water drain on my property, but what about the neighbours?’ Indeed, whilst ensuring your runoff isn’t flowing onto the neighbours’ land, there are circumstances in which you may be required to accept natural overland flow from either an adjoining private property or even public land. If that requirement applies to you, you can’t interfere with that flow.

6. What if you get into a dispute?

Unfortunately, arguments about runoff with neighbours is a rather common thing. Generally, though, the council, state and regulatory authorities aren’t going to be interested – rather, they’re likely to tell you it’s a private civil matter. Our advice is to stay calm and try to keep it out of court. When serious disputes can’t be solved, mediation may be available through Victoria’s Department of Justice.

Need help with your stormwater responsibilities?

Got any more questions? Need guidance, advice or fast, efficient, affordable stormwater drainage solutions and fixes so that you can stay on top of your stormwater management responsibilities? The skilled, fully-qualified and reliably-smiling team at Ezy-Plumb is always standing by, ready to assist – so give us a shout today, whether you need a plumber Bayside or beyond!

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