Water Pollution

Think carefully about what you wash into the gutter.

Street-side gutters almost always drain into local rivers and creeks through the stormwater system, impacting the environment.

Under the Environmental Protection Act 1994, it is an offence for any person to deposit or release certain items into a roadside gutter, stormwater drainage, or waters (including creeks, rivers, and lakes). It is an offense to place any of these items where they could be reasonably expected to move or be washed into a roadside gutter, stormwater drainage, or waters.

These items include:

  • earth
  • chemicals
  • liquids containing suspended solids
  • paint
  • batteries
  • tyres
  • cement
  • oil.

If these items are not disposed of accordingly, the following penalties may apply:

  • On-the-spot fines - $1,000 for individuals and $2,000 for businesses
  • Court imposed - Up to $83,500.
    • After rinsing brushes in a water-filled container (not under running water), place lids on the containers and allow them to stand overnight.
    • Pour settled clear water onto grass or garden. Do not allow this water to flow into a gutter, drain, or waterway.
    • Allow residue to dry out by leaving uncovered (you can add some dirt/sand/kitty litter to speed up the process).
    • Once dried out, dispose of the container and dry residue in a rubbish bin.
    • Do not dispose of liquid paint either in a bin or down a drain.
    • Clean up oil-based paint.
    • Turpentine can be reused, so there is no need to throw it away after its first use.
    • Always store turpentine in a clearly labelled solvent-resistant container with a childproof cap.
    • Never pour turpentine down a sink, drain, gutter, or into a waterway.
    • Rags that have been used to soak up turpentine can be thrown away in your normal household bin.
    • If throwing away old paint, allow it to dry out by leaving the lid off for a few days. To speed up the drying process you can add dirt, sand or kitty litter to the paint.
    • Construction of exposed aggregate driveways
    • Use gravel sand bags or similar in the gutter to dam 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 on-site onto grass (ensuring no runoff) and allow to dry.
    • When finished, clean up the gutter and the wet vacuum.
    • Avoid stockpiling of sand, soil, or similar material where it might wash into a stormwater drain.
    • When delivering sand, soil, or similar, the location where the load is to be deposited should be considered carefully. Sand or soil placed on a footpath or driveway could reasonably be expected to be washed into a gutter, drain, or creek and a fine could be issued.
    • Stockpiles should be surrounded with sediment control devices that will prevent the runoff of sediments to the gutter or stormwater drain. Sand bags or sediment fencing installed properly around the stockpile are examples of sediment control devices that can be used.
    • Water should also be diverted around the stockpile.
    • If the stockpile is soil, and will be left for a number of weeks, consider sowing some grass seed on the stockpile to control erosion.
    • Covering the stockpile with a tarp will also assist in preventing runoff during rain.
    • All waste liquids such as radiator coolant should be collected for recycling or appropriate disposal. These coolants are harmful to the environment and should never be poured down a stormwater drain.
    • Another suggestion for coolants is to use wide collection trays and allow the coolant to dry out in the sun over a period of time (but do not leave containers out during wet weather where they are likely fill up and overflow).
    • Powdered remnants can then be placed in the rubbish bin.
    • Clean cars in a purpose built car-washing facility or on a grassed area.
    • Do not allow water to discharge to stormwater.
    • Do not use degreasing agents or perform degreasing of engines other than in an approved wash down bay.
    • Use a ground cover sheet during any maintenance or repair of a vehicle that is not performed in a motor vehicle workshop. The sheet should be large enough to cover the whole ground area underneath the vehicle.
    • Use rags or absorbent material to clean up any spills on the cover sheet and dispose of these rags in rubbish bins.
    • A plastic 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.
    • Always have sawdust or other absorbent material for liquid spills where possible and bag residues before placing them in a bin.
    • Ensure all packaging materials are placed in a rubbish bin and are not permitted to end up in stormwater drains.

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