Stormwater
  • Last updated:
  • 24 Mar 2019

Most issues about water flowing across a neighbouring block (overland flow), are dealt with between the relevant property owners.

Council may become involved in issues relating to water flowing across a block if the water is being concentrated and directed onto a neighbouring property. For example, where:

  • your neighbour has installed a down pipe that has an outlet near your property
  • an agricultural drain or seepage drain outlet is causing the water to flow across your property.

If water is flowing across your block due to any of the following, you should seek independent advice or deal with your neighbour directly:

  • water is a naturally occurring overland flow
  • water is on your property because of the construction of a fence, wall or building that is causing it to dam rather than flow, or
  • building dates from a time before the enactment of the Building Act i.e. before 1975. Many properties dating from that time were not required to be connected to the stormwater system and now have pipes that empty onto the ground below.

If the water is the result of heavy rain, drains do not always cope. The legislation and regulations covering the dimensions of pipes and stormwater systems are written with average rainfalls in mind, and do not make allowance for heavy deluges.

For this reason, even approved stormwater disposal systems may appear inadequate on occasion, due to extreme weather conditions.

Many water flow problems are resolved by installing seepage drains. Seepage drains prevent pooling and allow the water to be directed away from properties and into the stormwater system. 

Where to go for help

  • speak to your neighbour first. Many people do not realise the problem is occurring and are happy to cooperate
  • a licensed plumber and drain layer can provide advice on the source of water and how best to resolve the problem, or
  • a solicitor can assist with other aspects, such as legal considerations between neighbours, including liability and damages.

If you and your neighbour cannot resolve the problem, the State Justice Department Dispute Resolution Centre can provide mediation without legal action.

Easements for drainage purposes or flood mitigation purposes are a public utility easement (a section of land on a property), where either council or the upstream property owners have the right to direct stormwater through or discharge onto the property.

While some easements are designed for overland flow, others contain stormwater related infrastructure, such as:

  • underground pipe systems with grated inlets
  • swales
  • table drains, and
  • earth drains.

All which must not be altered.

Generally, no structures, improvements or landscaping are permitted within or near easement boundaries. Some improvements may be considered if:

  • it can be demonstrated that adequate protection against council's infrastructure is provided, and
  • enough access will be available for maintenance and future use.

Note: council reserves the right to remove any works within easements that do not have council's written consent. The property owner will be held liable if any unauthorised works are within a stormwater easement.

If you are planning any works within a stormwater easement in favour of council, you will need to apply for an easement relaxation approval well before the commencement of any works. Each application will be considered on its merits. It is not guaranteed that council grant approval.

Please note, this is a separate application to any operational works approval.

To apply, you will need to submit the following information to council:

  • an easement relaxation application form[283KB]
  • statement from the property owners requesting an easement relaxation
  • plans detailing the extent of encroachments within easement area relating to relevant stormwater infrastructure, and
  • where council has no objections to the relaxation, a letter from council will be sent to the property owner. A duplicate letter needs acknowledgement, signed and returned back to council within 14 days.

Note: if stormwater infrastructure, such as underground pipes located within the easement, you may also need to apply for a build over/near stormwater infrastructure application.

You can either email or post your applications to council.

Examples where you will need to apply for an easement relaxation:

  • undertaking any earthworks within the easement that may alter the original surface levels
  • landscape works including planting, or
  • building permanent structures within the easement extents e.g. a shed, pool or garage.

Fencing easements

Boundary fences are permitted to include drainage easements as part of the private allotment. The fence must ensure that the integrity of the easement is not altered in any way. Some fencing may need an easement relaxation. For example, block fencing or fencing that will prohibit access to drainage infrastructure or impeded overland flow paths.

If you're planning to build over or near stormwater infrastructure, you will need to apply for council approval before construction starts.

You will need a building certifier to assess your proposed building work against the Queensland Development Code (QDC) MP 1.4 - Building over or near relevant infrastructure. Where an acceptable solution under the code cannot be met, you'll need to apply to council to assess the proposed work.

Please note, this is a separate application to any operational works approval.

To apply, you will need to submit the following information to council:

  • an build over council stormwater infrastructure application form[285KB]
  • a site plan showing all existing and proposed structures in relation to the stormwater infrastructure. Please note: the size, depth and location of stormwater infrastructure is to be surveyed at the applicant's expense. Indicative mapping information will not be accepted
  • a statement of reasons showing which of the acceptable solution/s from QDC MP 1.4 cannot be met and a statement of how the related performance requirement/s within the code will be achieved
  • structural engineering design drawing of the footing/foundations for the proposed building work with elevation views in relation to the stormwater infrastructure, and
  • if there is a stormwater easement effected, you will need to provide a copy of your easement relaxation application/approval.

You can either email or post your applications to council.

Examples where you will need to seek approval:

  • constructing a new dwelling, shed, pool or other structure
  • constructing a block fence structure with footings
  • constructing a retaining wall more than 1 metre high within the zone of influence
  • where the clearance from council infrastructure to a fence, building or other structure is less than 1.2 metres from edge of pipe
  • where driven piles or piers within 5 metres of council infrastructure
  • where any building, structure or bored excavations for piers or footings are within the zone of influence of council infrastructure
  • where earthworks are directly over or will affect the structural integrity of council infrastructure, or
  • where the vertical height to the finished surface over council infrastructure will be less than 2.4 metres.

Who is responsible for dealing with issues relating to groundwater on my property?

The property owner handles the management of any groundwater on their property.

My neighbour has undertaken works which now result in water ponding/flowing onto my property. What can council do to resolve this matter?

  • speak to your neighbour first. Many people do not realise the problem is occurring and are happy to cooperate, or
  • a licensed plumber and drain layer can provide advice on the source of water and how best to resolve the problem.

If you and your neighbour cannot resolve the problem, the State Justice Department Dispute Resolution Centre can provide mediation without legal action.

Can I take certain measures to redirect overland flow in my property?

Property owners are required to accept natural overland flow from:

  • adjoining properties
  • public land, and
  • roads.

As a property owner; apart from easements, you have the right to change flow within your boundary as you see fit. Provided you don't affect another property e.g. by concentrating flows onto a neighbouring property.

You cannot erect any type of barrier on your boundary that interferes with the natural path of stormwater, this may impact other parties. Anyone found to be blocking or altering the natural runoff of water, may be held responsible for any damages incurred.

Water from the road is entering my property. Can council build kerb and channel/drainage to prevent this?

Council stormwater infrastructure has a primary purpose to keep road users safe. This is performed by controlling large volumes of water from the road surface. Property owners are required to accept natural overland flow from:

  • adjoining properties
  • public land,
  • roads.

An option may be to introduce private inter-allotment drainage to reduce the impact of road runoff.

Can council install a pipe at my driveway crossover to prevent stormwater flowing down my driveway?

Driveway crossovers are not a council asset. Upgrades and maintenance is by the property owner. For further detail, refer to IPWEAQ standard drawings:

  • R-049
  • RS-50, and
  • RS-56.

Stormwater is entering my property via my driveway. Can council consider installing a stormwater drain at the front of my property?

For properties built below the road, stormwater will likely enter your property via your driveway if it is not built to standards.

Driveways are conditioned to achieve a high point of 250mm above the invert of kerb to ensure stormwater's contained within the road reserve, as required by the Queensland Urban Drainage Manual (QUDM).

Driveway crossovers are not a council asset. Upgrades and maintenance is by the property owner. For Further detail, refer to IPWEAQ standard drawings:

  • R-049
  • RS-50, and
  • RS-56.

How do I know if the stormwater pipe in my easement/property is privately owned or not?

Generally anything less than 375mm in diameter is private. Usually this network exists to convey roof water drainage if the property's graded below the road.

As council's mapping system isn't always accurate, if you are unsure contact council's stormwater services.

The stormwater in my street is not good enough to drain water away during heavy rain events. Can council upgrade the stormwater network?

The underground stormwater network is typically designed to carry flows for a minor storm event. For any heavy storm events, it's expected that the road reserve will begin to flood until the drainage network can drain the water away.

The stormwater network is backing up and not draining right. Can council replace/unblock the pipes?

Contact council to report blockages or damaged pipes in the road reserve.

Council do not own or maintain:

  • private stormwater downpipes that connect into the kerb, or
  • inter-allotment drainage.

Help from a plumber should be sought for any damage or blocked pipes by the property owner.

The condition of the pit/head wall/end wall near my property is in poor condition and is a hazard to road users and pedestrians. Can this be fixed?

Contact council for any poor condition or damaged asset, providing:

  • street address
  • description of the location, and
  • photographs where available.

Can I connect my stormwater from my roof and driveway to council's stormwater network?

Connecting to council's network is:

  • subject to approval
  • to be undertaken by a qualified plumber, and
  • at the cost of the property owner.

Generally, if the stormwater will eventually end up in the system, approval of the connection request will occur.