Eurobodalla Shire has many pristine waterways for the community to enjoy, including 130kms of Batemans Marine Park coastline. These waterways are also home to many local aquatic species and wildlife.
When it rains, rubbish and contaminants get washed into stormwater drains, one of the most common ways pollutants enter our waterways. Visible and dissolved pollutants flow from roofs, gardens, driveways, roads, restaurants, construction sites and factories. The material is then discharged into surrounding beaches, lakes, rivers, estuaries and lagoons. Pollutants can include:
- organic material: soil, garden clippings, leaves, animal droppings, sewage overflows
- litter: paper and other packaging, takeaway containers and cutlery, plastic bags, cigarette butts, bottles, cans
- chemicals: pesticides, fertilisers, paint, oil, fuel, heavy metals, detergents, commercial waste
- sediment and construction waste from building sites and road works.
These pollutants can pose significant health risks to people, as well as plants and animals that live in our waterways.
How water pollution occurs
Water pollution can develop from many different sources such as:
- poor building practices
- pressure washing surfaces, including the roof of a house
- placing chemicals, sediments and other foreign materials in a body of water or watercourse (includes stormwater channels, drains and roadside street gutters)
- washing vehicles with detergents in the street
- paint/oil spills
- sewer overflows.
How to report a water pollution incident
The Protection of the Environment Operations Act 1997 (POEO Act) provides the legal framework for investigating and preventing water pollution in NSW.
Please report all water pollution incidents and issues to Council on:
- T: 02 4474 1310
- E: Council's Environmental Services Team
Under the POEO Act, Council can serve notices and/or fines on individuals or businesses responsible for water pollution.
Details you'll need to report
When you report the pollution incident, please provide:
- time and date of the water pollution incident
- details of pollution type
- where you discovered the pollution
- whether you observed the incident
- any other details of the incident. This includes:
- weather conditions
- descriptions of people that may have been responsible for the incident
- your contact details.
If you engage in an activity that results in a pollution incident, you have a duty to report the incident.
If you occupy land where the pollution incident occurred, you must also report it. Failure to report the incident is an offence and carries a fine.
Other agencies you may need to contact
Depending on the type of pollution incident that occurred, Council may not be the responsible authority. You may need to notify a different organisation responsible for regulating pollution from that activity:
- W: NSW EPA - contacts for water pollution
- T: EPA Pollution Hotline - 131 555.
What you can do to prevent water pollution
Most drainage points in your backyard link to the stormwater drain.
You can avoid water pollution at home and in the garden by doing these simple things:
- Work on your car in the garage, not on the street or where oil and grease may wash into gutters.
- Wash your car on the lawn and pour any leftover soapy water onto the lawn. You could also use a service station car washing bay or a car wash that recycles water.
- Cover piles of soil, sand or mulch.
- Stop leaves, litter and sediments from entering gutters and drains.
- Replant areas of disturbed soil.
- Use organic fertilisers.
- Pick up pet droppings and dispose of them in a rubbish bin or the garden.
- Put leaves and grass clippings into your compost bin or onto the garden as mulch.
- Build barriers around your garden beds to contain the soil.
- Place all waste into a waste bin and all recyclable items into a recycling bin. Don't let your bins overflow as waste can end up in stormwater drains.
- Wash bins on the lawn.
- Install rainwater tanks and/or systems to divert roof water to your gardens.
Owners and builders are responsible for controlling soil erosion on a building site. This also includes preventing sediment from washing into stormwater drains.
- When building, landscaping or renovating, always use appropriate sediment and erosion practices.
- Sediment controls should be regularly cleaned and maintained.
- Keep stocked spill kits on hand and make sure staff know how to use them.
- Cover sediment piles. Ensure appropriate barriers are in place to prevent sediment flowing down the drains.
- Never hose chemical spills down the drain.
- Store chemicals in a maintained bunded and covered storage area.
- Wash paint brushes and rollers in a bucket or over a sand filter on the lawn.
- Remove sand, gravel, cement and other building materials with a shovel and a bin or skip.
- Empty paint in the garden or put it in sealed containers in the garbage bin.
- Dispose of unwanted paint and paint-related products through Council's annual chemical cleanout service. You can also drop-off paint all year-round for free at our Community Recycling Centre.
- Cover your vehicle's load – soil, sand or other waste – when taking it to the tip.
- Reuse turps once paint has settled.
Mobile cleaning and trade businesses can help stop pollutants like detergents, oils and pesticides entering our stormwater system. These businesses include:
- pet hydro bath or mobile dog washing units
- steam and high-pressure cleaning
- roof cleaning or re-coating
- brick and paver cutting
- carpet cleaning
- car washing
- driveway laying
Your business can help prevent pollution by following these practices:
- Where wastewater consists only of soil and organic material (no oil or chemicals), you can dispose of it into a garden or grassed area.
- An appropriate regulated waste company must collect wastewater that contains oil or chemicals.
- Use sandbags or a portable bund to prevent wastewater from entering drains.
- Sweep up all waste material rather than hosing down.
- Avoid using detergents, oils, pesticides or chemicals near drains, gutters and waterways.
- Work on a grassed or gravelled area away from drains, roadside gutters and waterways.
- Use a bucket to collect wastewater for reuse or proper disposal.
- Store all detergents, solvents, oils or any other chemicals in a secure area.
- Collect all waste and use a licensed recycling operator or disposal facility.
- Clean up spills or leaks using dry absorbent materials such as kitty litter, rags or a bund.
- Use as little water as possible or use trigger hoses, where necessary.
- Ensure your staff are aware of their environmental responsibilities.
Roof and gutter downpipes connect to roadside gutters, stormwater drains and our waterways. This means wastewater run-off from roof cleaning ends up in our creeks, rivers and the ocean. Pollutants, such as oxides, algae, paint flakes, concrete and sediment can kill seagrass, aquatic plants and marine life. You can help protect our waterways by taking simple precautions when cleaning and restoring roofs:
- Disconnect downpipes and redirect wastewater to the garden.
- If you can't disconnect the downpipes, block them and feed the wastewater onto the lawn or garden.
- If wastewater does accidently drain to the stormwater gutter, remove all captured wastewater as soon as possible. You can do this by using a vacuum or bilge pump directing it to the lawn or garden. Make sure the wastewater doesn't flow into the stormwater drain.
- You can drill a hole in the gutter or downpipe, block the downpipe (below the hole) and divert the water to garden beds. When complete, you can plug the hole with a grommet.
- Use sandbags and a portable bund (a barrier to contain water) in the roadside gutter. This will protect stormwater drains from accidentals spills and runoff.
Roof cleaning example set-up
- Clean up wind-blown takeaway litter in and around the premises.
- Try to use reusable or biodegradable cutlery, crockery and containers.
- Store all used oil in a sealable container for recycling.
- Clean out your grease trap often to avoid clogging that can result in an overflow.
- Dispose of wastewater into the sewerage system and not the stormwater drain.
- Carry reusable cutlery and straws and reduce single-use plastics.
- Carry a container for your cigarette butts.
- When walking your dog, pick up its droppings with a biodegradable bag and put it in a bin.
- Don't litter - carry rubbish home or place in public bins.
- Eurobodalla Council: Greywater and your property
- Eurobodalla Council: Stormwater and your property
- NSW Department of Planning and Environment: What can you do to stop water pollution?
- NSW Department of Planning and Environment: How to reduce stormwater pollution
- NSW Department of Planning and Environment: Waterway health
- Sydney Water: Avoid wastewater overflows
- NSW EPA: Solutions to pollution - information sheets for small industries and businesses
- NSW EPA: The drain is just for rain
We can help you
If you need more information about water pollution, please contact our Rangers:
- T: 02 4474 1019
- E: Council's Rangers