Drainage, flooding and your property

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1. Identifying the owner of a stormwater drain

Stormwater drains in the Yarra Ranges are owned by property owners, Melbourne Water and Council.

Drains owned by property owners

Stormwater is surface water resulting from heavy rain or snow.  Stormwater from your property is required to drain into an allocated location such as an underground drain or to the kerb and channel in the road. This point is known as the Legal Point of Discharge.

All drainage infrastructure on private properties up to the connection to the Legal Point of Discharge is the responsibility of the property owner. Drainage issues beyond this point are likely to be the responsibility of Council or the local Water Authority. 

Property owners are responsible for ensuring;

  • stormwater does not affect other neighbouring properties
  • stormwater pipes are connected to the Legal Point of Discharge

For more information on Legal Point of Discharge, click here

Drains owned by Council

Council is responsible for pipes and pits located within drainage easements, road reserves and the kerb and channel. This excludes house connections to the road reserve.

We investigate flooding issues that impact properties, roads and public areas in addition to investigating sites for future infrastructure improvement.

To report a Council drain or pit that is blocked or needs maintenance, click here to lodge a request

Drains owned by Melbourne Water

Melbourne Water is responsible for large-scale pipes and pits, creeks, rivers and other large-scale stormwater infrastructure.

A diagram that shows the division of ownership of stormwater drains

 

2. Stormwater connections where there is no Council drainage system

Some older residential areas do not have a direct connection to public stormwater drainage assets.  In these areas, properties are likely to drain to soakage pits (also known as rubble pits or soak away) or private drainage lines.  Property owners are responsible for the maintenance these drainage systems located on their property.

If there are persistent problems with stormwater runoff in your area, there are two options for the construction of more suitable drainage infrastructure;

  1. design and construction of an improved drainage system through a 'Drainage Scheme' whereby work is funded by the property owners it services and the ongoing maintenance will be the responsibility of Council. It essentially becomes a Council asset; or
  2. construction of a private drainage system. Council must approve a private system, but the installation and ongoing maintenance of the system is the responsibility of the property owner(s)

You can contact Council to determine the closest Legal Point of Discharge or for further advice relating to a future drainage scheme.

3. Preventing or minimising flooding

You can prevent or minimise flooding within your property during extreme weather events by:

  • maintaining drainage systems to ensure they are functioning well;
  • keeping gutters, down pipes and pits clear of leaves and debris; and
  • making sure excess stormwater can escape via an appropriate overland flow path.

If you suspect a blockage in a drainage pipe located on your property, we recommend you contact a licensed plumber to investigate.

Flood prone properties 

If your property is listed as flood prone, you can expect to be affected by a significant amount of surface stormwater after heavy rainfall.

Properties that have been identified as being flood prone may be included in a ‘flooding’ map or overlay in the planning scheme. Overlays help us to manage development to minimise the effects of overland flows and flooding on new buildings. In addition, development must not increase flood risk or hazards to people and neighbouring properties.

Preparing your flood-prone property

If your property is flood prone, you can prepare for extreme weather events by;

  • watching how water drains through your garden or grounds during minor rainfall events
  • plotting overland flow paths through your property and work out if there are any obstructions – water tanks, gates, side and boundary fences are barriers that can exacerbate the effects of flash flooding on properties and dwellings.
  • choosing permeable fencing that allows flood waters to pass through and not ‘back up’
  • choosing landscaping materials carefully: tree roots, leaves, and gravel can cause blockages within drainage systems
  • relocating garden sheds containing valuable items clear of known flood paths
  • reducing the risk of flash flooding by notifying Council of blocked pits in the roadway and drainage network.

4. Flooding and drainage issues between neighbours

Property owners are responsible for controlling stormwater runoff from their property.  If water from a neighbours’ property is impacting your property, this is a private matter between you and your neighbour. However, if your neighbour has recently or is currently undertaking building or land works, you can lodge a request with Council.

Types of complaints which may need to be addressed privately include;

  • Flooding and drainage issues between private properties where a septic system is not involved
  • Surface water from one property impacting another property due to poor onsite drainage
  • Groundwater causing landslip where a septic system or Council asset is not involved

Flooding or water flow issues between adjoining properties should be resolved between the private property owners involved.

Grey Water

If your neighbour is discharging grey water into their property (eg. from washing machine) and it is flowing into your property, this is a civil matter. Council recommend you discuss the matter with your neighbour.

If you can’t reach a resolution, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1300 372 888


If you are unsure if a matter you’re involved in is private or not, you can lodge a request with Council and the appropriate department will investigate.

Landscaping, paving or new sheds

If your neighbour has recently completed work in their grounds that has redirected or caused water to flow onto your property, this is a civil matter. This includes landscaping or the installation of a shed that is less than 10m2. We recommend you discuss the matter with your neighbour. If you can’t reach a resolution, you can contact the Dispute Settlement Centre on 1300 372 888

Flooding from a building site

Individual builders are responsible for management of stormwater on a building site during construction. If your property has been flooded by surface water from a nearby site, you will need to take your own legal action.

Complaints about buildings under construction should be directed to relevant builder or building surveyor. Look for their contact details on the building sign at the front of the property or ask us for their details.

5. Flooding involving septic or polluted water

Council’s Public and Environmental Health Department will investigate drainage complaints that are likely to be offensive or detrimental to a person’s health and wellbeing. This includes:

  • Ground water involving a septic system
  • Water that is stagnant, not free flowing
  • Water that is rancid or has an unpleasant smell and is clearly contaminated (e.g. chemical)

Stormwater requirements for Building & Planning

Stormwater must be connected to a legally approved point of discharge. A point of discharge is usually an underground drain, kerbs or open table drains.

To meet our stormwater drainage requirements for a planning or building permit, please follow these steps:

Step 1: Apply for a stormwater point of discharge certificate

Apply for a stormwater point of discharge certificate

  • Please allow 10 working days for us to assess this application.

  • The construction of an outfall drain to the nearest Council asset may be required.

  • A fee of $144.70 will apply

Step 2: Submit your stormwater drainage plans and computations

Submit your stormwater drainage plans and computations

  • Refer to your planning permit for your stormwater drainage requirements.

  • Please allow 20 working days for us to assess this application.

  • Fees vary from $175 to $1000.

Step 3: Apply for a works within a road reserve permit or a Construction of a Council Asset (Surveillance/Maintenance) Permit

If you are connecting directly to a Council asset, you'll need a Works within a road reserve permit. Alternatively if you are constructing Council drainage to your point of discharge you will need a Construction of a Council Asset (Surveillance/Maintenance) Permit

Apply for a works within a road reserve permit

  • A works within a road reserve permit is required to install any new stormwater connection.

  • Please allow 10 working days for us to assess this application.

  • A fee of $256.00 and security bond (where applicable) of $1000 will apply.

Apply for a Surveillance/Maintenance Permit

  • A Survellance/Maintenance Permit is required to construct any new Council drainage
  • The fee and bond is dependant on the estimated cost of works.  The fee for works under $100,000 is $5500 ($5000 bond and $500 fee). The fee for works over $100,000 is 2.5% of the cost of work plus a bond of 5% of the cost of works.

Apply for works under $100,000 ($5500 payable on application)

Apply for works over $100,000 (You will receive an invoice for payment following submission)


 

6. Driveways, roadsides and drain types

Property owners are responsible for the pipes under private driveways and crossovers.

Council generally clears any drain blockages if the road is likely to become impacted. However, if an investigation finds the blockage sits within the pipes under a private driveway or crossover, the property owner is responsible and will be advised to take action. 

Different types of drains

There are many different types of drains that Council maintains.

The image gallery below outlines the different types of drains you’ll find in the Yarra Ranges and who to contact for maintenance requests.

Drains maintained by Council
  • Kerb and Channel
  • Grated Pit
  • Side Entry Pit
  • Table Drain
  • Cross Road Culvert
  • Silt Trap

If you're not sure what type of drain needs maintenance, view the gallery below.

Property owners are responsible for the pipes under private driveways and crossovers and their maintenance.  

Council generally clears any drain blockages if the road is likely to become impacted.  However, if an investigation finds the blockage sits within the pipes under a private driveway or crossover, the property owner is responsible and will be advised to take action.

If the pipe under your driveway has been blocked with gravel from the road, you can report it to Council.

Road and roadside drainage

Council’s Infrastructure Services investigates flooding and drainage issues which may be impacting residential properties, roads and public areas.  The Infrastructure Maintenance and Stormwater Engineering Teams perform maintenance and investigate sites for drainage improvements.

Report a Council roadside drain or pit that is blocked or needs maintenance here.

Drainage design

When drainage pipes are installed, they are designed to cater for the normal range of rainfall in that area.  When extremely heavy rainfall occurs, stormwater can start flowing 'overland' because this pipe system is full. This can cause problems for residents, particularly those with properties in gullies and low lying areas.

Flooding is usually caused by abnormally heavy rainfall and should ease shortly after an event.  However, if flooding continues to occur on a regular basis, you can lodge a request and Council will investigate and determine if it is something Council can assist with, or if it is a private matter.

Drainage improvement works

If an investigation finds that improvements are required for Council’s drainage system to reduce significant flooding in an area, works are required to be approved and referred for budget allocation. This can sometimes be a lengthy process as a program of drainage improvement works is developed and endorsed each year by Council.

7. Drainage easements

What is a drainage easement?

A drainage easement is an area of land reserved by law and shown on Title, that has the specific purpose of drainage.

drainage easement diagram: shows the division of a house, easement and pipe

What is an implied easement?

An implied easement is land not shown in an easement on Title that contains a Council stormwater drain.

Is there an easement on my property?

To locate easements on your property refer to the Title of the property. A copy of the Title can be ordered from www.landata.vic.gov.au.

To request the location of Council stormwater pipes and pits, please email mail@yarraranges.vic.gov.au and direct your request to the Stormwater Engineering Team.

Can I build over easement?

To build over a drainage easement, you must obtain approval from Council and Yarra Valley Water.

Apply online application to build over an easement.

8. Groundwater

Groundwater and seepage may occur on your property. These are considered natural occurrences. The property owner is responsible for making provisions to manage this water.

Groundwater must not be discharged into Council’s stormwater system.

Sewerage System

For all queries regarding sewerage and wastewater contact Yarra Valley Water on 13 27 62 or South East Water on 13 28 12.

Wastewater from hand basins, sinks, showers, baths, laundries, toilets and swimming pools should be connected into the sewage system.

9. Water mains

For issues relating to water supply or burst water mains, please contact Yarra Valley Water  on 132 762 or South East Water on 13 28 12.

Locating pipes and other services

For information on underground pipes, cables and other public authority assets, call “Dial Before You Dig” on 1100 or visit 1100.com.au. Council does not keep records of private or domestic drains on a property.

10. Drainage FAQ

Why are we clearing the drains?

Yarra Ranges Council’s Road Maintenance Program, requires drains to be cleared to allow water to flow adequately from the road and into stormwater drains or nearby paddocks. This makes our roads safer and helps to ensure the longevity of the road network. 

Why is there some vegetation left in my drain?

Some vegetation can be beneficial to the network as long as this vegetation isn’t blocking water flowing through your drain.  It slows down the speed of water and protects infrastructure from erosion damage during high rainfall events. 

Can the operator construct a new drain or make alterations to existing drain?

No, the operator is onsite to clear any blockages in the existing drain and cannot construct new drains or make any alterations. This includes the placement of large rocks (rock beaching) or cement in drains - The placement of such treatments is generally not a long term sustainable solution. If there are ongoing erosion issues these are to be raised with council engineers for investigation.  

Can Residents Request Drains to be cleared?

Residents can request under road culverts and open drain/table drain clearance works by contacting Yarra Ranges Council. Operators cannot take such requests.

Who is responsible for driveway culverts?

Driveway culvert installation, replacement or clearance is the responsibility of the property owner/s. Council may assist in driveway culvert clearance if the blockage is impacting other council assets. An already damaged or brittle pipe may blow out when jetted during maintenance.

What should I do around drainage crews?

For your safety it is important to stay a safe distance away from the machinery. This means maintaining 3 m either side, and 10 m in-front and behind the machinery. This is to ensure your safety and allows the operator to see you. 

What do I do when I am driving and an excavator or backhoe is approaching me?

Excavators and backhoes are large heavy vehicles with limited vision. If one of these vehicles is approaching you, the safest thing to do is to pull up in a safe position and wait for them to pass you. 

11. Report a drainage issue

You can report a drainage issue online. Please note that as part of this process, you may be asked to identify the type of drain you are reporting on. View information on different types of drains.

Report a drainage issue

You can also report an issue by contacting the Stormwater Engineering Team at mail@yarraranges.vic.gov.au

12. Water coming from a neighbouring property  

Read our Neighbouring Property Flooding Fact Sheets to learn more: