Improving the quality of stormwater at home
There are plenty of things we can do at home to prevent pollutants from mixing in with stormwater. Click on the tabs below to find out more about stormwater pollutants and read tips on how to improve the quality of stormwater leaving your property.
Stormwater easily erodes exposed dirt (e.g. soil, clay, etc) as it flows through urban areas, which tends to give stormwater that brown ‘milky’ appearance.
- Blocks sunlight from reaching aquatic organisms.
- Makes it difficult for fish to breathe.
- Unpleasant appearance.
- Design garden areas which trap soils (e.g. use borders around garden beds).
- Maximise vegetated areas and minimise areas with exposed soil.
- Cover exposed soil with groundcover (e.g. gravel, bark or mulch) to help prevent soil being washed or blown away.
Stormwater commonly collects fuels, chemicals, oils and metals as it flows through urban areas. These toxic substances are generally left behind on the ground by vehicles and other machinery, or through industrial activities and projects we might take on at home (e.g. cleaning, maintenance, renovations, etc).
- Poisonous to humans and aquatic organisms.
- Check cars for fuel, oil and radiator leaks, and fix as soon as possible.
- Clean up spilled automotive fluid with absorbent material (e.g. kitty litter) and dispose of it in the waste bin.
- Dispose of toxic substances (e.g. paint, cleaning fluids, oil, coolant, fuels, battery acid, etc) at an appropriate collection or recycling facility; not in the garden or stormwater drains. Contact your Council for details of the nearest facility.
Garden products (e.g. fertilisers, pesticides and herbicides), car wash detergents and organic matter (e.g. leaves, lawn cuttings) which end up on the ground are often collected by stormwater as it flows through urban areas.
- Algal growth.
- Encourages weed growth.
- Unpleasant appearance.
- Wash your car, boat or trailer on a grassy area and minimise detergents.
- Choose plants for your garden that don’t need fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides. But if using fertilisers, pesticides or herbicides; do so sparingly.
- Sweep the driveway, footpath and street gutters rather than hosing them down into the street.
- Plant locally native species rather than deciduous exotic plants to prevent excess leaf litter in your yard.
- Clean up all organic material in your garden, and put it in a secure pile to compost.
Animal droppings and human effluent contain bacteria which can end up in stormwater systems if not managed responsibly.
- Can cause disease in humans and other animals.
- Pick up your dogs droppings in the garden at home, and when out walking. Droppings can be buried in the garden or placed in the waste bin in a sealed bag.
- Inspect wastewater arrangements at your house to ensure sewage isn’t connected to the stormwater system.
Most forms of rubbish found in urban areas will float and can easily wash into stormwater systems when it rains.
- Can harm aquatic organisms.
- Unpleasant appearance.
- Whether at home or out and about put all rubbish, including cigarette butts, in a waste bin. If there’s no waste bin handy, hold onto your rubbish until you can find a bin or take it home with you.
- Pick up any litter found in public areas and put it in a waste bin.
Reducing the quantity of stormwater runoff at home
The less stormwater which leaves your property, the less likely it will collect and transport pollutants into stormwater systems. Click on the tabs below to read tips about how you can reduce the quantity of stormwater leaving your property.
Installing one of these will reduce the amount of stormwater leaving your property and provide a new water source for your household.
Generally, rainwater is safe for drinking and unlikely to cause any illness for most users providing it is clear, has little taste or smell and is from a well-maintained system.
Rainwater can also be used for gardening or can even be plumbed into your home for use in washing machines and toilets.
A raingarden is a garden bed that is specifically designed to:
- cleanse stormwater before it leaves your property;
- reduce the amount of stormwater which leaves your property; and
- slowly discharge stormwater from your property.
To find out more about raingardens, including instructions on how to set one up at home, check out the video below. For more detailed information including detailed design and construction sheets, please visit the Melbourne Water raingarden webpages.
Sealed surfaces like driveways, concrete paths and pavements at home prevent rainfall from soaking into the ground which increases the amount of stormwater runoff. Some tips to make your yard more absorbent include:
- Use gravel or absorbent pavers to make driveways and paths.
- Maximise vegetated areas (e.g. grass, trees, shrubs, etc), otherwise use bark or mulch as ground cover.