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Who is responsible for stormwater?

We’ve all seen it before - when it rains, the water that falls is collected in various places on your property or along the street and runs down drains or into gutters. But, who is actually responsible for that water, otherwise known as stormwater? It may not be something you have considered, but stormwater has to go somewhere and there has to be some infrastructure in place to get it where it needs to go! So, we thought we would put together a little information about where stormwater goes in Sydney, and how it travels, however if you have any further questions head to https://www.nsw.gov.au or give Everyday Plumbing a call on 0406 400 200 today.

Stormwater Drainage

What is stormwater?

Stormwater is the water that runs from various surfaces into the drain following rain. This includes places like roofs, footpaths and roads - any areas that don’t really soak-up moisture after it has rained.

Every year, about 500 billion litres of stormwater flows to the ocean. That’s about as much water as in Sydney Harbour!

Where does stormwater go?

Usually, stormwater flows from property drains to street gutters, which are operated by local councils or other organisations. Sometimes these drains connect to large channels, pipes and creeks, which creates what’s known as a ‘trunk drainage system’. So, in essence, stormwater always runs into our waterways.

Stormwater drains differ from sewerage systems, and must not be confused. Stormwater drainage and sewerage run separately and towards different end points - sewage that runs through sewerage pipes must be treated, whereas stormwater heads almost straight into our waterways.


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Who is responsible for stormwater drainage in Sydney?

So, the big question… who is responsible for stormwater drainage in Sydney? It really depends on where the stormwater drain is located, so we have covered both private stormwater plumbing, as well as plumbing outside your land boundaries.

Stormwater drainage on your property

Any stormwater drainage that occurs on your property is your responsibility, including maintenance of all piping on your land up until it connects with the water main. You are also responsible for all runoff that occurs from your property, which includes any possible pollutants. Speak to your local plumber for further information.


Stormwater drainage outside your property

Generally, once stormwater leaves your property properly and in accordance with the relevant guidelines and regulations, local councils and Sydney Water are responsible for stormwater drainage in Sydney. This includes the infrastructure and the water running through it!

Who is responsible for stormwater drainage in other parts of Australia?

Depending on your location, differing entities can be responsible for the local drains, as well as the larger drainage system. You will always be responsible for what is on/under your property though! We have collected some information for other states and territories besides NSW, however ensure you complete your own extensive research as well:

Map of Australia


In Victoria, local councils are responsible for the local drains, as well as street and property drainage that flows into regional drains, creeks and rivers. In relation to the larger stormwater drains that the street drains run into, Melbourne Water is responsible for these. Check out https://www.vic.gov.au/ for more information.


In Queensland, generally your local council is responsible for the stormwater network that isn’t located on/under your property. Take a look at https://www.qld.gov.au/ for more information.

South Australia

If you live in South Australia, your local council is typically the ones who look after stormwater drains, so head to https://www.sa.gov.au/ for further information.

Western Australia

Western Australia are similar to South Australia, in that local councils look after stormwater drains, however the Department of Water does assist in stormwater management in various ways. Go to https://www.wa.gov.au/ to find out more.


In Tasmania, the local council is responsible for maintaining all public stormwater systems in municipal areas. This includes public stormwater mains, manholes and pits, as well as managing major waterways to ensure their hydraulic function, and regulating private drainage. Check out https://www.tas.gov.au/ for more information.

Northern Territory

If you are residing in the Northern Territory, your local government will maintain and upgrade the stormwater system in your area. This includes installing gross pollutant traps so, if you would like to know more, head over to https://nt.gov.au/.

Australian Capital Territory

Finally, in the Australian Capital Territory it is Roads ACT that manages, maintains and monitors the urban stormwater network, including sumps, stormwater pipes, stormwater channels, water quality pond embankments, cut off drains, retarding basins gross pollutant traps, dams and weirs. Take a look at https://www.act.gov.au/ for further information.

Everyday Plumbing

Your Sydney Plumbing Specialists

If you have any further questions regarding the stormwater services in your area, or would like some assistance with stormwater run-off on your property, give Everyday Plumbing a call on 0406 400 200 or complete an online job booking form now. We specialists when it comes to all your plumbing needs in Sydney, so get in contact today!


Resources :

Sydney Water (Stormwater) : https://www.sydneywater.com.au/SW/education/Watermanagement/Stormwater/index.htm

Sydney Water (Stormwater Network) : https://www.sydneywater.com.au/SW/water-the-environment/how-we-manage-sydney-s-water/stormwater-network/index.htm

Sydney Water (Water Policy) : https://www.sydneywater.com.au/web/groups/publicwebcontent/documents/document/zgrf/mdq0/~edisp/dd_044005.pdf

Australian Government (Your Home - Stormwater) : http://www.yourhome.gov.au/water/stormwater

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