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Stormwater and our waterways

As rainwater travels through a catchment, it carries everything that it picks up along the way, including many contaminants which can cause problems in our environment.

What is stormwater?

The water that falls as rain and then travels throughout the catchment as runoff is known as stormwater. All stormwater flows by gravity from the highest to the lowest points, into creeks, rivers, lakes and eventually the ocean.  

How can stormwater be a pollutant?  

Our landscape features are connected through our waterways. As stormwater travels through the catchment, it carries everything that it picks up along the way, including many types of pollutants.  Stormwater is generally unable to be treated, so any pollutants that enter our waterways upstream will also cause problems in our waterways downstream.  

Pollutants can cause poor water quality, salinity and algal blooms in our waterways and include:  

  • chemicals, 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)    

What can I do?

Everyone can help prevent stormwater pollution. Here are a few simple ways you can help:  

  • wash your car on the grass and let your lawn soak up the nutrients from the detergent.
  • bin your rubbish, including cigarette butts, and put recycling in its place.
  • never tip unused paints or oils down the drain or sink. Contact Council for proper disposal practices of chemical substances or come along to Council's Chemical Clean Out day  
  • sweep leaves and dirt from driveways and gutters, and reuse it as mulch – your garden will love it!
  • scoop up your pet’s droppings and dispose of them in the bin.
  • 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.

Get your school involved!

Council offer 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.
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