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Stormwater on your property

Rainwater that is unable to enter the underground drainage system will find its natural way to the nearest watercourse via overflow paths. These overflow paths are typically roadways, public reserves, pathways and through private property.

Owner’s responsibilities

Property owners must maintain the stormwater pipes, gutters, downpipes, gully pits and any other components of your stormwater system on your property in good condition and in compliance with Council requirements.

You are responsible for maintaining your stormwater system to the kerb and gutter, or any other approved discharge point. If repairs are needed, you will need to lodge an application to carry out work.

Applications are available at Council offices or on the website.

Accepting natural overland flow from adjoining properties or public land is a reality. You must not divert or redirect the flow from its natural path onto a neighbour’s properties.

It is important to note that a downstream property owner cannot erect any type of barrier that interferes with the path of stormwater flow. If you are at the bottom of the slope, you must accept that ‘natural’ run-off onto your property will occur.

When constructing hardstand areas, such as paved areas, you must control stormwater in order to prevent it from flowing onto a neighbouring property. It is preferable to minimize the area of water-resistant surfaces such as concrete or paved areas and driveways.

If there is an easement on your property for stormwater drainage, it must be maintained and kept clear of any obstructions to allow the natural flow of stormwater.

Council’s responsibilities

If the property has a stormwater installation, defined under the Local Government Act 1993 such as roof gutters, downpipes, subsoil drains and stormwater drainage for the premises, Council may direct the property owner to connect to Council’s stormwater drainage system, if available and practical to do so.

The Local Government Act 1993 makes provisions for the control of stormwater and Council is empowered to issue property owners with written orders if they are in breach of this requirement.

Legal points of discharge

There are two ways of connecting stormwater to a legal point of discharge:

  1. Roof and surface water is drained to the kerb and channel; and/or
  2. An inter-allotment drainage system is installed in accordance with Australian Standard AS/NZS 3500.3.

Overland flow

Overland flows between private properties usually occurs when:

  • The natural contours are towards sloping land.
  • A site has been excavated during building eg cut and fill style construction.
  • Retaining walls, drains or other structures have been built that result in stormwater being collected, concentrated, diverted away from natural flow paths.

Landscaping can significantly change the topography of a property and the way it sheds water. Ideally, runoff should be promoted towards the street, or to a drainage system if provided. Intercept drains and perimeter berms are also helpful in directing run off towards the drainage system.

An upstream property owner cannot be held liable merely because surface water flows naturally from their land on to the lower land of a neighbour. However the upstream property owner may be liable if they have altered the flow water into a more concentrated form.

Disputes between neighbours

Problems with surface stormwater flows between neighbouring properties are generally a civil matter to be resolved between the respective owners. Council has limited power to intervene.

Landowners are encouraged to talk to their neighbours about the problem and to seek a mutually suitable solution.

If this is not possible, the Community Justice Centre provides a non-legal mediation service.

Finally, if you feel your property has been exposed to potential damage, you can seek legal advice about the feasibility of taking civil action against the party you believe to be creating the problem.

Contact details

Byron Shire Council
02 6626 7000

Community Justice Centre
1800 671 964