• Last updated:
  • 21 Dec 2022

Stormwater run-off can be a common problem. It is important to maintain your stormwater drains. This helps prevent pollution, property damage and flooding.

It is best to communicate with your neighbours about any flooding problems you have. Often neighbours can work together to reach a resolution.

You should talk with your neighbour directly or seek independent advice if:

  • overland surface water flows between properties due to the natural slope of the land,
  • construction of a fence, wall or building causes water to dam rather than flow,
  • swimming pool water is overflowing onto your property, caused by rainfall,
  • a property built before 1976 is not connected to the stormwater system. Some of these properties still have pipes that empty onto the ground.

Installing field gully catchment pits or seepage drains can resolve water flow problems. They can prevent water pooling and direct it into the stormwater system.

Council may become involved if water is being concentrated and directed onto a neighbouring property. For example, where:

  • your neighbour has installed a down pipe that has an outlet near your property
  • an agricultural drain or seepage drain outlet causes water to flow across your property.

Where to go for help

  • speak to your neighbour first. Many people do not realise the problem is occurring and are happy to cooperate
  • seek advice from a licensed plumber and drain layer on the source of water and how best to resolve the problem
  • a solicitor can help with other aspects, like legal considerations between neighbours. This includes liability and damages.

If you and your neighbour cannot resolve the problem, the State Justice Department Dispute Resolution Centre can provide mediation without legal action.

As storm season approaches, it's a good time to check your property. Use our flood mapping and information to be prepared. 

Report a stormwater issue.

Drainage or flood mitigation easements are a section of land on a property set aside for a public utility. Council or upstream property owners may have the right to direct stormwater through or discharge onto the easement.

You must not alter easements. They usually contain stormwater related infrastructure, such as:

  • underground pipe systems with grated inlets
  • swales
  • table drains, and
  • earth drains.

Generally, no structures, improvements or landscaping are permitted within or near easement boundaries.

You need to apply for an easement relaxation before you start any construction within a stormwater easement. You will be liable for any unauthorised works within a stormwater easement.

Examples where you will need to apply for an easement relaxation:

  • undertaking earthworks within the easement that may alter the original surface levels
  • landscape works, including planting, or
  • building permanent structures within the easement e.g. fence, shed, pool or garage.

Your application may be considered if:

  • you can show you will provide adequate protection against council's infrastructure, and
  • enough access will be available for maintenance and future use.

It is not guaranteed that council will grant approval. This is a separate application to any operational works approval.

Note: council reserves the right to remove any works within easements that do not have council's written consent.

You can either email or post your application to council, including:

  • an easement relaxation application form (DOCX, 283KB)
  • statement from the property owners requesting an easement relaxation
  • plans detailing the extent of encroachments within easement area relating to relevant stormwater infrastructure, and
  • where council has no objections to the relaxation, a letter from council will be sent to the property owner. A duplicate letter must be returned to council within 14 days. It must include acknowledgement, and signature.

Note: if stormwater infrastructure, such as underground pipes are located within the easement, you may also need to make a 'build over/near stormwater infrastructure' application.

Fencing easements

Boundary fences are permitted to include drainage easements as part of the private allotment. The fence must ensure that the integrity of the easement is not altered in any way.

Some fencing may need an easement relaxation. For example, block fencing or fencing that:

  • prohibits access to drainage infrastructure, or
  • impeeds overland flow paths.

If you're planning to build over or near stormwater infrastructure, you will need to apply for council approval before construction starts.

You will need a building certifier to assess your proposed building work against the Queensland Development Code (QDC) MP 1.4 - Building over or near relevant infrastructure. Where an acceptable solution under the code cannot be met, you'll need to apply to council to assess the proposed work.

Please note, this is a separate application to any operational works approval.

You can submit online through MyCouncilemail or post your application to council, including:

  • request for concurrence agency response (building work) form 
  • a site plan showing all existing and proposed structures in relation to the stormwater infrastructure. Please note: the size, depth and location of stormwater infrastructure is to be surveyed at the applicant's expense. Indicative mapping information will not be accepted
  • a statement of reasons showing:
    • which of the acceptable solution/s from QDC MP 1.4 cannot be met, and
    • how the related performance requirement/s within the code will be achieved
  • structural engineering design drawing of the footing/foundations for the proposed building work with elevation views in relation to the stormwater infrastructure, and
  • if there is a stormwater easement effected, include a copy of your easement relaxation application/approval.

Examples where you will need to seek approval:

  • constructing a new dwelling, shed, pool or other structure
  • constructing a block fence structure with footings
  • constructing a retaining wall more than 1 metre high within the zone of influence
  • where the clearance from council infrastructure to a fence, building or other structure is less than 1.2 metres from edge of pipe
  • where driven piles or piers are within 5 metres of council infrastructure
  • where any building, structure or bored excavations for piers or footings are within the zone of influence of council infrastructure
  • where earthworks are directly over or will affect the structural integrity of council infrastructure, or
  • where the vertical height to the finished surface over council infrastructure will be less than 2.4 metres.

Who deals with issues relating to groundwater on my property?

The property owner manages groundwater on their property.

My neighbour has carried out work which causes water to flow or pond on my property. Where can I go for help?

  • speak to your neighbour first. Many people do not realise the problem is occurring and are happy to cooperate, or
  • a licensed plumber and drain layer can provide advice on the source of water and how best to resolve the problem
  • council may become involved where roof water from new building work has not been connected to a lawful point of discharge.

If you and your neighbour cannot resolve the problem, the State Justice Department Dispute Resolution Centre can provide mediation without legal action.

Can I redirect overland flow in my property?

Property owners must accept natural overland flow from:

  • adjoining properties
  • public land, and
  • roads.

As a property owner; apart from easements, you have the right to change flow within your boundary as you see fit. Provided you don't affect another property e.g. by concentrating flows onto a neighbouring property.

You cannot erect any type of barrier on your boundary that interferes with the natural path of stormwater, this may impact other parties. Anyone found to be blocking or altering the natural runoff of water, may be held responsible for any damages incurred.

Water runs from the road on to my property. Can council build kerb and channel or drainage to prevent this?

Council stormwater infrastructure has a primary purpose to keep road users safe. It controls large volumes of water from the road surface. Property owners must accept natural overland flow from:

  • adjoining properties
  • public land
  • roads.

An option may be to introduce private inter-allotment drainage to reduce the impact of road runoff. You should consult with a private plumber or engineer for more information.

Who is responsible for inter-allotment drainage?

Where a drainage easement exists solely to cater for inter-allotment or privately owned drainage infrastructure, the property owner is responsible for all items associated with the drainage infrastructure. This includes any field inlet covers or end structure connections entering into or servicing the easement.

Can council install a pipe at the front of my property or at my driveway crossover to prevent stormwater flowing down my driveway?

For properties built below the road, stormwater can enter your property via your driveway if it is not build to standards.

It is the property owner's responsibility to build, maintain or alter the vehicle crossover to council standards.

This includes:

  • any associated drainage and kerbing
  • where the driveway crosses the kerb
  • any affected footpath, water course, drain and drainage easement.

Refer to construction of vehicle crossovers for more information.

How do I know who owns the stormwater pipe in my easement or property?

Generally anything less than 375mm in diameter is private. Usually this network exists to convey roof water drainage if the property is graded below the road.

If you are unsure contact council's stormwater services.

Stormwater in my street doesn't drain water away during heavy rain. Can council upgrade the stormwater network?

The underground stormwater network is typically designed to carry flows for minor storm events. For any heavy storm events, it's expected that the road reserve will begin to flood until the drainage network can drain the water away.

The stormwater network is backing up and not draining right. Can council fix this?

Contact council to report blockages or damaged pipes in the road reserve.

You should contact a plumber for blockages or damage to:

  • private stormwater downpipes that connect into the kerb, or
  • inter-allotment drainage.

Who is responsible for general vegetation, green waste and sediment in my drainage easement?

The property owner is responsible for managing

  • minor sediment build-up,
  • debris and litter,
  • weed control, and
  • grass mowing.

It is also the property owner's responsibility to maintain the surface levels of a drainage easement as they were originally approved and constructed. Following an extraordinary event, council may remove any major build-up of upstream road reserve sediment from a council swale within an easement, if it has not been caused by a property owner.

The stormwater structure near my property is in poor condition and is a hazard to road users and pedestrians. Can this be fixed?

Contact council for any poor condition or damaged asset, providing:

  • street address
  • description of the location, and
  • photographs where available.

Can I connect my stormwater from my roof and driveway to council's stormwater network?

Connecting to council's network is:

  • subject to council approval
  • to be undertaken by a qualified plumber, and
  • at the cost of the property owner.

Generally, if the stormwater will eventually end up in the system, approval of the connection request will occur.

 As part of Sunshine Coast Council’s commitment to effective stormwater management, our Stormwater Management Strategy addresses the numerous challenges and opportunities now being faced. The strategy helps provide a clear path towards achieving Council’s vision ‘Australia’s most sustainable region – Healthy. Smart. Creative.’

Council provides a Stormwater network to enable the delivery of a sustainable level of service to existing and future customers in the most cost effective way, while managing risk and adhering to statutory and legislative requirements. Council's Stormwater Asset Management plan is intended to demonstrate how council will achieve this outcome by applying the principles of responsible asset management.

For useful information on stormwater drainage issues associated with residential properties, refer to:

Stormwater Queensland 2022 Awards for Excellence

WINNER - Excellence in policy and education
Sunshine Coast Council Construction Management and Waterway Protection Taskforce

HIGHLY COMMENDED - Excellence in strategic or master planning
Sunshine Coast Stormwater Management Strategy