Stormwater, pollution and our waterways
Stormwater is the biggest source of water pollution and there is a lot we can do to prevent it.
How can stormwater be a pollutant?
Whenever it rains, contaminants and rubbish get washed into stormwater drains and our natural aquatic ecosystems which can cause problems to the environment.
As stormwater is generally unable to be treated, these visible and dissolved pollutants that run-off as wastewater from household roofs, gutters, downpipes, gardens, driveways and roads, end up in our creeks, rivers and the ocean:
- Chemicals and heavy metals - pesticides, paints, fuels, engine oils and grease
- Nutrients - nitrogen and phosphorus from fertilisers, animal waste, decaying organic matter, soils, detergents
- Sediments - land clearing, construction areas
- Litter - plastic bottles, cigarette butts, packaging from shopping centres, takeaway shops
- Weeds - many plant pests and their seeds get passed downstream.
Pollutants, such as oxides, paint flakes, concrete and sediment can cause poor water quality, salinity and algal blooms, that kill seagrass, aquatic plants and marine life.
What can you do about water pollution
You can help protect the environment by becoming aware of where stormwater pollution comes from, and by taking these steps to ensure only clean water enters our waterways.
In your garden
- Sweep leaves and dirt from driveways and gutters, and reuse it as mulch – your garden will love it!
- Keep grazing animals safely away from online dams
- Go native! Fill your garden with endemic Australian plant species and reduce the spread of weeds through the catchment
- Use organic fertilisers.
Roof cleaning and restoration
- Install rainwater tanks and/or systems to divert roof water directly to gardens or a holding tank for disposal by a licensed liquid waste disposal contractor
- If disconnecting downpipes is not feasible, block the downpipe where cleaning - feed the wastewater onto lawns or gardens
- Protect stormwater drains using sandbags or a portable bund (a barrier to contain water) in the roadside gutter
- Remove captured wastewater using a vacuum or bilge pump to direct to lawns or gardens, making sure no wastewater flows into the stormwater drain
- Drill a hole in downpipes and guttering that can divert water to garden beds - when complete, plug the hole with a grommet
- Always keep handy a spill response kit - shovel, broom and rags to clean up residue
- Never tip unused paints or oils down the drain or sink, contact us for proper disposal practices of chemical substances or come along to Council's Chemical Clean Out day.
When you maintain your car
- Wash your car on the grass and let your lawn soak up the nutrients from the detergent
- Use a service station car washing bay or a car wash that recycles water
- Regularly service your car.
On the go
- Scoop up your pet's droppings and dispose of them in the bin
- Bin your rubbish, including cigarette butts, and put recycling in its place.
- Store chemicals in a properly maintained and covered storage area
- Keep adequately stocked spill kits on hand and make sure staff know how to use them
- Never, ever hose chemical spills down the drain
- Allow unwanted paint to dry out, then take the tins to Council's Chemical Clean Out day
- Find out more about how soil erosion and sediment control, can help improve the health of local waterways.
Get your school involved!
Campbelltown City Council offers a free environmental education program for primary schools called Waterwise Waterways.
Through this program students:
- Learn what a drain is for and how it connects to waterways and the surrounding environment
- Identify the purpose of stormwater systems and the common elements that make up a stormwater system through hands-on exploring of the Australian Museum's water catchment model
- Explore their school environment to identify stormwater drain locations and all possible pollutant sources
- Workshop actions to improve their local catchment
- Work in peer-to-peer groups to design a drain artwork that will communicate to local residents and the wider community the need to keep stormwater and the local environment clean.
How to report water pollution incidents
Under the Environmental Protection Act, allowing polluted wastewater to enter stormwater drains, roadside gutters and waterways is an offence and may attract fines or prosecution.