Environmental issues

Water quality

What can we do about stormwater pollution?

Everyone can do something to reduce stormwater pollution

Some people are quick to complain about water pollution, especially when it affects their favourite river, lake or beach. They may not realise that they may be contributing to this pollution when they tip harmful materials down the drain or carelessly drop litter on the road. The reality is that we all have an impact on stormwater quality, and we can all take steps to make a difference. You could make a difference just by changing the way you do something, like washing your car or walking your dog.

Activities which seem harmless or insignificant on a small scale can have an enormous cumulative impact on our waterways. Imagine thousands of people in the streets around you dropping a cigarette butt from their cars, sweeping dirt off their driveways or washing detergent off their cars down the street drains. It all ends up in the water.

Benefits for everyone

Whether you live close to the water, or only visit lakes, rivers, the harbour or beaches occasionally, reduced stormwater pollution will lead to many ongoing benefits for the environment and for all of us:

  • rivers, lakes and beaches will be cleaner and safer for swimming
  • waterways will look cleaner: there will be fewer plastic bags and other pollution visible in the water
  • ratepayers will spend less money on emptying stormwater traps
  • the environment will be healthier for plants and animals

What you can do to reduce stormwater pollution

In the garden



  • sweep the gutters and driveways regularly and place the sweepings on the garden, compost or in the bin
  • don't hose dirt off hard surfaces (roads, paths, driveways) into gutters
  • prevent soil or mulch from being washed or blown off the garden
  • don't  hose leaves and grass clippings into gutters
  • rake up leaves or lawn clippings and use them as mulch on the garden or place them in the compost
  • don't  pile sand and soil on areas where it can wash into the stormwater system
  • grass or re-plant areas of disturbed soil
  • don't  overuse chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) that could be washed into stormwater from the garden or yard
  • consider natural alternatives to pest control chemicals
  • don't  use too much fertiliser

In the street



  • pick up litter in the park or on the street
  • don't  drop packaging or cigarette butts on the ground
  • clean up pet droppings and dispose of them in the garden, rubbish bins, or in the toilet.
  • don't  leave rubbish where bins are already full

With the car



  • maintain the car, making sure there are no leaks and that fuel is burnt 'cleanly' by keeping your car tuned
  • don't  work on your car (including oil changing) in a place where oil and grease may wash into gutters
  • use the minimum amount of detergent for cleaning outside, and wash your car on the grass or on gravel. A better option is to take your car to a car wash, where the water is recycled.
  • don't  wash the car in the street using detergent

During renovations



  • wash brushes and rollers over a sand filter on the lawn
  • don't  wash out cement mixers or barrows so that the waste flows into street drain
  • keep paint, turps and solvents clear of gutters or drain
  • don't  hose sand, gravel or cement into the gutter
  • reuse turps once the paint has settled
  • don't  leave piles of sand or gravel uncovered where it could wash or blow into the gutter
  • allow unused paint to dry out and then put it in the bin

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Page last updated: 21 December 2015