Introduction to Stormwater Management
There’s a lot more to stormwater management than just the trench drain grate. Our stormwater systems are an important part of our towns and cities and do a lot more than we might realise. In this blog we will give you a basic understanding about stormwater systems and their benefits, including how they protect our waterways.
What is stormwater?
Stormwater differs from rainwater in quantity and intensity. Rainwater soaks into the soil without disturbing the surface (such as leaf litter, soil and composting materials) and provides nutrients to plants. In contrast, stormwater is a heavy downpour that picks up the top layer of toil, including any toxins and chemicals, and carries them to channel drains, drainage pipes, pits and drainage easements.
What’s the difference between stormwater and sewerage water?
It’s easy to confuse sewerage and stormwater. They both travel via pipes underground and away from our homes. However, they couldn’t be more different. Sewerage comes from our home, whereas stormwater is the excess water that occurs after it rains outside. Sewerage can be full of all kinds of things and is highly toxic. In contrast, stormwater may contain some chemicals and debris, but it is mainly composed of water. Added to this, sewerage and stormwater travel in separate systems and are treated differently once they reach the nearest water and wastewater treatment plant. They then go on to have very different life cycles and applications once treated. It’s a case of similar but different. You certainly wouldn’t want to get them mixed up.
For more information check out this handy infographic by Shoalhaven City Council.
Who looks after the drains and pipes outside my property?
In Australia, the stormwater drains, pits and trench grates you see everywhere along roads, within public spaces such as parks and outside your property boundary are all maintained and managed by your local council. Additionally, your property is connected to drainage points or “easements”, which are typically on the periphery of your residential block. All drainage easements are property of the local council, or other nominated agencies or authorities, who have access rights in order to maintain essential drainage infrastructure. If you notice a problem with any one of these drains or structures, you should report the problem to the local council so they can quickly sort it out.
Boroondara Council has a great infographic about the difference between private and council stormwater systems.
Who looks after the drains and pipes within my property?
The stormwater drains and pipes within your property are your responsibility, however, it’s not always clear if the problem lies with the drainage system within your property or is coming from the council’s drainage system. For this reason, if you have noticed a problem with your stormwater drain system, it’s a good idea to call your local council first before you call a plumber. Additionally, if you are planning to build or extend your property it is essential that you speak to your local council and make sure you are acting in compliance with their stormwater and sewerage management standards.
How stormwater management protects our waterways
If stormwater flows into our local creeks, streams and rivers it can damage the delicate ecosystem by introducing pollutants and causing erosion. For this reason, stormwater drainage systems play a big role in protecting our environment, by directing excess water away from our waterways. Stormwater drainage systems also allow our local government to collect excess water for recycling programmes, ensuring that we have enough water to get through the hotter months without emptying our dams or threatening other sources of water.
Stormwater is a valuable resource and alternative water supply. In Australia, stormwater is increasingly being captured, cleaned and recycled for use, in a process called stormwater harvesting. There are also schemes to help individual households collect and reuse stormwater for things such as dishwater and watering the garden and other non-drinking purposes.
Introduction to Stormwater Management