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Water Pollution

Water pollution can occur in creeks, streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, stormwater drains and oceans.  Water pollution is a contamination of waterways which can result in the destruction of habitat for fish, other animals and plants.

It is an offence for any person to deposit or release certain materials into a roadside gutter, stormwater drain or waterway.  It is also an offence to place materials where they could reasonably be expected to move or be washed into a roadside gutter, stormwater drain or waterway.  Examples of these materials include:

  • rubbish
  • scrap metal, motor vehicle parts or bodies
  • tyres
  • building waste
  • sawdust
  • cement or concrete
  • degreasing agents, paints, varnish or paint thinners
  • Cooking, household or motor oils
  • insecticide, herbicide, fungicide or other biocides
  • clay, gravel or stone

How can I manage water pollution coming from my property?

There are many ways in which everyone can ensure their actions do not result in the contamination of our precious resource, water. Below are some simple ways to prevent water pollution.

Roof/gutter cleaning

  • When undertaking roof/gutter cleaning, if possible, disconnect downpipes and redirect wastewater to the garden, or to a holding tank for disposal by a licensed liquid waste disposal contractor. It is important to ensure that if you do this you don’t direct the water to a neighbouring property and that you reconnect as soon as possible after the work is completed.
  • If disconnecting downpipes is not possible, block the downpipe and feed the wastewater onto lawns or gardens.
  • Holes may be drilled in the gutter or downpipe, the downpipe blocked (below the hole) and water diverted to garden beds.  When complete, the hole can be plugged with a grommet.
  • Use sandbags or a portable bund (a barrier to contain water) in the roadside gutter to protect stormwater drains from accidentals spills and runoff.
  • Always keep a spill response kit, including a shovel, broom and rags, to clean-up residues nearby.  Do not wash or hose remaining waste material into the stormwater drain.
  • Keep the length of time spent undertaking this type of cleaning to a minimum.

Disposing of paint

  • Remove any excess paint with newspapers or old rags and dispose into a bin.
  • Wash paint brushes in one container and rinse in a second container.
  • Place lids on all containers and allow to stand overnight.
  • Pour the settled water onto the grass or garden - do not allow this water to flow into a gutter, drain or waterway.
  • Dispose of containers into a rubbish bin.

Laying exposed aggregate surfaces (gravel)

  • Use gravel sand bags or similar in the gutter to dam (stop) the wash off.
  • Use a wet vacuum to collect the slurry that collects in front of the sand bags.
  • Dispose of the wet bag contents onto grass (ensuring no runoff) and allow to dry.
  • When finished, clean up the gutter and the wet vacuum.

Storing sand, soil or similar materials

  • When delivering these materials, the location should be considered carefully. Sand or soil placed on a footpath or driveway could be washed into a gutter, drain or creek - which is an offence.
  • Surround stockpiles with sediment control devices (sediment fencing, sandbags or staked plastic sheeting) to prevent the runoff of sediment to the gutter or stormwater drain.
  • Water should be diverted around the stockpile. Covering the stockpile with a tarp will assist in preventing runoff during rain.

Liquid wastes and waste water

  • Waste liquids, such as radiator coolant, should be collected for recycling or appropriate disposal at a Council Refuse and Recycle Centre.  These coolants are harmful to the environment and should never be poured down a stormwater drain.  More information available at Household Hazardous Waste.
  • Use wide waste oil collection trays and allow the coolant to dry out in the sun over a period of time (do not leave containers out during wet weather where they are likely to get tipped over or overflow).  Powdered remnants can be placed in the rubbish bin.

Vehicle and boat cleaning

  • Clean cars in a purpose built car washing facility.
  • Do not use degreasing agents or perform degreasing of engines other than in an approved wash down bay.
  • At home washing of cars should be conducted on grassed areas that do not drain to stormwater.  No wash water should flow into gutters, stormwater drains or nearby waterways.

Minor vehicle servicing and maintenance

  • Use a ground cover sheet during any maintenance or repair of a vehicle that is not performed in a mechanic's workshop. The sheet should be large enough to cover the whole ground area underneath the vehicle being worked on.
  • Use rags or absorbent material to clean up any spills on the cover sheet and dispose of these rags in a rubbish bin.  A waste oil collection tray, large enough to collect the waste oil should be used during any oil change service.  Waste oil should be collected in a container for recycling and taken to a Refuse and Recycle Centre.
  • Always have absorbent material for liquid spills and bag any residue before placing in a bin.
  • Ensure all packaging materials are placed in a rubbish bin.

How can I make a complaint about water pollution?

Discuss with your neighbour

People are sometimes unaware that their activities are causing a nuisance. Ipswich City Council encourages all residents and business operators to talk to their neighbours first about nuisance problems and only make a complaint if the issue remains unresolved.

Please follow the below steps to lodge your complaint with Council. Have the following information ready:

  • details of the source and nature of the issue
  • location of contamination and what it is that has been contaminated (eg river, creek or dam)
  • where the issue is coming from
  • what is the suspected contaminant?
  • how did the contamination occur?
  • specific information on how often the issue is happening (e.g. what time and on what day/s)

Contact Council by one of the methods below:

How does Council manage a water pollution complaint?

Council attend the property causing the issue and determine if the contamination is detectable or the cause is evident.

  • If no contamination is detected, Council Officers will contact the person who made the report to determine if the contamination is evident.
  • If an issue is identified, Council speak to the resident or business causing the issue to attempt to resolve the issue.  If necessary, Council may issue a Compliance Notice.
  • If a Compliance Notice is issued, a follow up process is put in place and will be undertaken to determine if the issue is ongoing after the expiration of the notice.

Resources

Printable Water Pollution Fact Sheet