Wet Wet Wet!
In 2022, we experienced our wettest January in 40 years, with wild storm activity and the resulting flooding having a major impact across our region. Keep up to date with how we’re prioritising assistance for our community, and our plans for future resilience against the impacts of climate change.
See our community updates:
- Council Looks to Environmental Strategies for Future Resilience | AlburyCity (nsw.gov.au)
- Albury Storm Recovery Continues | AlburyCity (nsw.gov.au)
- Disaster assistance for Albury | AlburyCity (nsw.gov.au)
- Community Storm Assistance Continues | AlburyCity (nsw.gov.au)
We also strongly encourage community members and businesses that have been impacted by the storms to contact Service NSW on 13 77 88 to see what disaster funding assistance might be available.
Flooding issues from stormwater can be a common problem for property owners. Flooding and nuisance issues from stormwater can sometimes result in damage to property and distress to residents.
Stormwater is rainwater that runs off surfaces such as lawns, roads, roofs, car parks and natural ground surfaces. Stormwater that is unable to enter the underground drainage system will find its natural way to the nearest watercourse via overland flow paths. These overland flow paths are typically natural depressions (that often occur through private property), open channels, roadways and public reserves
Albury’s public stormwater system handles stormwater from road reserves, parks, drainage reserves, drainage easements and some private properties. The infrastructure includes pits, pipes, channels and kerbs and gutters.
We are responsible for managing stormwater in the local government area, except for state roads and the rail corridor. We keep records of all parts of the public stormwater system and can provide details on request. We don’t keep records of private stormwater systems.
The public stormwater system discharges to several catchment areas that drain to the Murray River. We also manage these catchments and floodplains.
Why stormwater is a problem
Rainfall runoff from your roof and land collects on driveways, roads and footpaths and flows from saturated gardens, fields and subdivision sites into the Council stormwater system and out into the Murray River. Along the way it crosses different surfaces and can collect various pollutants – sediment, exposed soil, oil and grease from driveways and roads, leaves and animal manure from gutters, and chemicals from gardens.
All this exposure to contamination means that stormwater can harm the quality of water in the catchment and the Murray River downstream of Albury. It can also damage ecosystems in and around the Murray.
What we’re doing about it
Our policies and guidelines to manage stormwater and reduce its effects on the environment and residents are:
- Soil and Water Management Policy
- Consolidated Guidelines in Erosion and Sediment Control for Subdivisions, Building Sites, Riparian Zones and Council Assets Work Sites
- Engineering Guidelines for Subdivisions and Development Standards for Stormwater Drainage Design
When Council may take action
In accordance with Council’s Compliance and Enforcement Policy decisions about what action should be taken by council are made at the council’s discretion. This means the objective is that reports alleging unauthorised activity will be resolved to the satisfaction of council, not necessarily the person raising the matter. Council will generally try to resolve matters as quickly and informally as possible so as to avoid the need to take formal action.
When Council Will Not Take Action
Council Officers have the discretion to take no action or are unable to take action in the following circumstances;
- Surface water run-off occurs only in periods of exceptionally heavy rainfall,
- The surface water is natural run-off from the property or properties above due to the topography and isn’t redirected in any manner,
- Surface water is flowing down and/or across existing hard surface areas such as driveways, tennis, courts, concrete slabs or paved areas,
- The location of an existing dwelling, building or outbuilding impacts on surface run-off,
- 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 e.g. pipes and drainage pits. Note: private inter allotment easements are the responsibility of the property owners who are burdened by and/or benefited by the easement
Report blockages or request maintenance
We carry out regular maintenance work on the stormwater system. Typically we clean pits twice a year, but we clean pits that are known to block, such as those in areas with lots of trees, once a fortnight. We regularly inspect other components, such as pipes and channels, and clean them when necessary.
To report a blockage or request maintenance contact:
Phone: 02 6023 8111
When reporting a stormwater drainage issue on private land, please include the following information;
- Describe what is occurring,
- When did it occur and the frequency of occurrence,
- What is the source on the neighbouring land that is causing the problem,
- Take photos of the stormwater problem as it is occurring,
- Whether you made contact with Council about this issue previously,
- Describe how your land and/or building are being damaged. (if possible include a written report from a suitably qualified person stating the land or building is likely to or is being damaged),
- Whether you obtained professional advice as to the source of the stormwater issue,
- Whether you liaised with your neighbour to address this matter,
- Whether you sought advice or initiated mediation with your neighbour through the Community Justices Centre (details below)
Property Owner's Responsibilities
It’s important for you to manage stormwater on your land to avoiding damaging your neighbour’s property as well as your own. It is a requirement that all retaining walls must have adequate drainage lines connected to existing stormwater drainage systems.
What you need to do
Property owners have a range of responsibilities, which if carried out correctly, will minimise the threat of stormwater damage in the event of heavy rain;
- You must maintain your roof water drainage, stormwater pipes, gutters, downpipes, stormwater inlet pits and any other components of your approved drainage system on your property in good condition and in compliance with any Council requirements,
- You are required to accept natural overland flow from adjoining properties or public land and must not divert, redirect or concentrate the flow from its natural path on to neighbouring properties,
- It is important to note that a downstream property owner cannot erect any type of barrier by way of large walls or closed fencing that interferes with the path of stormwater - if you are downstream, you must accept the 'natural' run-off on to your property,
- Ensuring that all buildings (including sheds) have an adequate storm water drainage system connected to a legal point of discharge (e.g. connected to kerb and gutter or inter-allotment drainage system),
- When constructing hardstand areas you must control stormwater in order to prevent it from flowing on to adjacent property. It is preferable to minimise the area of water-resistant surfaces such as concrete or paved areas and driveways,
- If there is an easement on your property it must be maintained and kept clear of debris to allow the natural flow of stormwater.
Property owners generally need to ensure that roof water and stormwater is drained to one of the following to comply with AS/NZS 3500.3:2003 Plumbing and Drainage Part 3: Stormwater Drainage.
- Council street kerb and gutter,
- An inter-allotment drainage system; or
- Council controlled drainage easement or drainage reserve.
The requirements for stormwater management can be complicated. If you’re in any doubt, ask a licensed plumber to help you understand the rules and confirm that your property complies with them.
Technical details are in:
- the Building Code of Australia – technical standards for all aspects of building
- Volume 3 of the National Construction Code – plumbing and drainage requirements for stormwater
- Australian Standard AS/NZS 3500.3 Plumbing and Drainage – requirements for collecting roof water and surface water and discharging it through underground pipes to legal points of discharge.
Natural Flow / Sloping Blocks
Natural flow is the flow path down the slope following the contours of the land and occurs before any excavation, development or building. An upstream property owner cannot be held liable merely because surface water flows naturally from their land on to the lower land of a neighbor.
Ideally, runoff should be directed to the street, or to a drainage system if provided. Property owners need to be aware that landscaping can change the topography of a property and the way it distributes water.
Council is unlikely to investigate stormwater complaints involving the natural flow of stormwater from one property to another.
Buildings Currently Under Construction
Complaints about buildings under construction that are subject to a current building approval should, in the first instance, be referred to the responsible Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) or the Builder.
The details for the Principal Certifying Authority and Builder should be visible on the building sign on the front of the premises.
The individual builder remains responsible for all stormwater installations permitted under the development consent whilst the building is under construction. In the event of a complaint, the PCA has enforcement powers and must take appropriate action under relevant legislation.
Seepage water is the responsibility of individual property owners. Where sloping blocks have been excavated to obtain a flat yard or building site, seepage drains should be constructed to collect and redirect water to an approved stormwater drainage system.
You should liaise with neighbours to address any problems. If possible, drainage easements can be created to direct water to a Council stormwater drainage system.
Localised Overland Flooding
Localised overland flooding may occur when one or more of the following happens:
- The amount of rainfall exceeds the design capacity of the stormwater and roof drainage system,
- Private inlet pits and pipes are undersized or become blocked, A building or a fence is obstructing the overland flow path,
You can be held liable for damages if changes on your property increase flood levels and associated risk on an adjoining property.
A drainage easement is a legal encumbrance on the title of a property to provide Council with the authority to carry out whatever works are required on drainage infrastructure within the easement. The infrastructure can include open drainage channels, below ground pipe systems and grated inlets that are designed to accept allotment and roof water together with larger upstream catchment stormwater flows.
Generally, no structures or improvements (such as dwellings, buildings and landscaping treatments including earthworks, retaining walls and fill) are permitted within the easement boundaries.
The property owner is responsible for the maintenance of an easement on private property. Council is not responsible for vegetation maintenance, including the clearing of weeds and trees or any other maintenance of overgrown vegetation, to watercourses or easements located within private property. However, Council may carry out maintenance work to stormwater drainage infrastructure located within drainage easements on private property, as deemed necessary, to ensure the efficient operation of the system.
If you wish to formally manage dispute resolutions, you may consider contacting the Community Justices Centre. The Centre offers free advice and mediation services and can be contacted on 1800 990 777 or through their website www.cjc.nsw.gov.au.
Who Can I Contact If My Property Is Flooding?
For emergency help in flood events, contact the State Emergency Service (SES) on 132 500.