What can you do to stop water pollution?

Find out how you can join the action to stop pollutants entering our waterways.

Report water pollution

There’s a lot being done to stop pollution of our beaches. Local councils and the NSW State Government are successfully tackling sources of beach pollution in a range of ways. Many private and community groups are also making an important contribution.

You, your friends and family can also make a difference to the health of our waterways.

Take care of the beach

Ease the load on the sewage system

What should you do?
  • Get your sewer pipes smoke tested for damage and illegal stormwater connections.
  • Install a dual-flushing toilet cistern.
  • Only use the dishwasher and washing machine when there is a full load. This not only reduces the amount of detergents entering the sewer system, but also saves water and energy.

What shouldn't you do?
  • Leave sewer pipes damaged by tree roots on your property.
  • Dispose of any solid or liquid waste down the sink. This includes pesticides, garden chemicals, turpentine and fuel.
  • Put used cooking oil down the sink.
  • Use in-sink disposal devices.
  • Wash paint from brushes and rollers down the sink.
  • Put vegetable scraps, tea leaves, coffee grounds or eggshells down the sink. These can be composted.
  • Use the toilet as a garbage bin by flushing tampons, sanitary napkins, condoms, cotton buds and cigarette butts down the toilet. Put them in a bin. 

Reduce stormwater pollution

What should you do?
  • Pick up litter in the park or on the street.
  • Sweep your gutter and driveway regularly and put the sweepings on the garden, the compost or in the bin.
  • Stop soil or mulch being washed or blown off the garden.
  • Clean up pet droppings and dispose of them in the garden or rubbish bin or in the toilet.
  • Rake up leaves and put them in the compost bin.
  • Stabilise and replant areas of disturbed soil.
  • Consider natural alternatives to pest control chemicals in the garden.
  • Use the minimum amount of detergent for cleaning outside.
  • Wash paint brushes and rollers over a sand filter on the lawn.
  • Make sure your household sewerage pipes are not connected illegally to stormwater.
  • Install rainwater tanks (where council permits), and use this water on your garden.
  • Replace impermeable surfaces (e.g. concrete) with permeable surfaces such as timber decks and pavers (with gaps between pavers).
  • Maintain your car so there are no oil leaks.
  • Wash cars on the lawn or gravel using minimal detergent and empty the soapy water down the sink or toilet. Even better, take your car to a car wash where the water is treated and recycled.
What shouldn't you do?
  • Hose instead of sweeping dirt off impervious surfaces.
  • Drop packaging or cigarette butts on the ground. 
  • Leave rubbish where bins are already full.
  • Hose leaves and grass clippings into gutters.
  • Pile sand and soil on areas where it can wash into the stormwater system.
  • Overuse chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) that could be washed into stormwater from the garden or yard.
  • Use too much fertiliser in the garden (follow the instructions).
  • Use pesticides, herbicides and fertiliser when rain is forecast for the same day.
  • Dispose old oil or chemicals into gutters.
  • Pour paint, solvent or cleaners in the gutter or where they may enter drains.
  • Cover large areas with impervious surfaces, e.g. concrete or bitumen, which can overload stormwater capacity in heavy rain.
  • Wash the car in the street using detergent. (This is illegal!)
  • Perform oil changes on the car, where oil may run into gutters.