What is stormwater?

In most urbanised areas, a majority of the natural ground surface has been covered by hard ‘impervious’ surfaces (e.g. buildings, roads and pavements). Rain that falls on these areas is not able to easily soak into the ground, and runs off into drains. Most stormwater will enter drains that flow into creeks and rivers and then out to the sea. Some drains flow directly to the sea.

Stormwater runoff is natural, but in urban areas the amount has increased by the presence of impervious surfaces.

What is stormwater pollution?

As stormwater flows over the ground and through drains it collects pollutants including oil and grease from roads, rubber from car tyres, fertilisers, litter and heavy metals. When these pollutants enter waterways they can negatively impact water quality and harm the plants and animals that live in those waterways.

Some pollutants poison the fish, animals, insects and plants that live in and rely on these waterways. Other pollutants, such as nutrients, are present in such great quantities that they cause the excessive growth of unwanted plants, which then impact natural waterways and the marine environment.

Stormwater flows and pollutants can have a big impact on the health of our beaches and coastal environments.

Who is responsible for stormwater?

The management of stormwater is a shared responsibility. While local Councils are generally responsible for street drainage (kerbs and gutter), the Stormwater Management Authority, the Department for Environment and Water, Landscape Boards, and the Environment Protection Authority all have a role to play in stormwater management.

Stormwater Recycling and Water Sensitive Urban Design

What is stormwater recycling?

Stormwater recycling, stormwater reuse, or stormwater harvesting all refer to the collection of stormwater to be used for beneficial purposes, such as irrigating parks and gardens, use in industrial processes or creating recreational water features.

Is recycled stormwater safe?

Like any water source, stormwater may require treatment before it can be used. The degree of treatment required depends on the proposed use, particularly the level of public exposure. Additional treatment may be required for specific industrial uses, while little or no extra treatment may be required for low-grade uses such as wash-down and dust suppression.

How much stormwater do we recycle?

It is estimated that South Australia recycles approximately 22.7 gigalitres of stormwater each year (that’s over 9000 Olympic swimming pools).

What is water sensitive urban design?

Water sensitive urban design promotes the sustainable use, re-use and management of water in the places we live, work and play. This design approach integrates water from all sources (including rainwater, storm water, groundwater, mains water and waste water) into urban development and building.

Water sensitive urban design can be applied to residential, commercial and industrial developments and buildings, at the scale of a single house, a single street, a suburb, or a whole city. Techniques range from the storage, treatment and use of runoff, to water-efficient landscaping. Water sensitive urban design can help communities achieve greater water sustainability and create more pleasant places to live, work and play.

Water sensitive urban design is strongly linked to green infrastructure, the network of green spaces and water systems, like parks, gardens and creeks, which makes our urban places liveable.

For more information, see SA.gov.au or visit Water Sensitive SA.

Flooding and Flood Hazard

What is a flood?

In simple terms a flood is water where it is not wanted. However, floods vary in size and scale and flooding of lakes, rivers and watercourses is a natural part of the Australian landscape.

Floods can be caused by:

  • Rainfall from storms
  • Coastal high tides and storm surges
  • High groundwater levels (this is rare in South Australia)
  • Failure of infrastructure such as dams, levees or pipes.

Floods are one of the most serious and damaging natural hazards faced by the community in South Australia. Flooding is estimated to cost the state’s economy in excess of $26m per annum and there have been several recorded instances of fatalities.

How do I find out about flood hazard in my area?

To find information about the flood hazard in your area, contact your local Council or see the South Australian Flood Awareness Website.

For information on what to do to be prepared for a flood, visit SA.gov.au or the State Emergency Service.

What is a flood model/flood map?

A flood map is a map that shows areas of land that could be flooded in a specific flood scenario. Flood maps have been prepared for many parts of South Australia. Where flood maps have not been prepared, this does not means that there is no flood risk in these areas.

Flood maps vary due to the type of flooding being considered, the purpose they were made for, the technology used to make them, when they were made and who they were made by.

For more information, contact your local Council or see the South Australian Flood Awareness Website.

Why can’t floods be prevented?

The natural function of rivers, creeks and floodplains is to transport water to the coast or some other low point in the land (such as an inland lake). Human activity, such as the building of cities, dams, roads, bridges and culverts can interfere with and impede this natural function. In cities and towns, drainage can be constructed to manage and prevent small floods from interfering with people’s lives, however, large floods will still occur and it is not physically possible or cost effective to prevent these from occurring.

Stormwater Management Plans

What is a Stormwater Management Plan (SMP)?

Stormwater Management Plans (SMPs) are plans, prepared by local Councils, which provide objectives for how urban stormwater quantity and quality should be managed in an integrated way within catchments. These plans identify and guide investments that reduce flood risk and maximise the beneficial use of stormwater for reuse, environmental protection and enhancement of public amenity.

An approved Stormwater Management Plan is a Stormwater Management Plan that has been assessed as complying with the Guidelines on Stormwater Management Planning and which has been approved by the SMA by notice published in the South Australian Government Gazette.

Approved Stormwater Management Plans can be downloaded here.

Stormwater Management Fund

What is the Stormwater Management Fund?

The Stormwater Management Fund (SMF) has been established to assist local government to meet the costs of stormwater management planning and stormwater infrastructure. The SMA administers the SMF and provides funding support to eligible organisations and projects.

Who can apply to the Stormwater Management Fund?

Applications are open to any legally incorporated body. Priority is given to applications from local government authorities, groups of local government authorities, and regional subsidiaries established under the Local Government Act 1999.

What can I apply to the Stormwater Management Fund for?

Organisations can apply for funding support for:

  • Completing hydrologic studies and hydraulic studies and floodplain mapping
  • Preparing or revising Stormwater Management Plans (SMPs)
  • Undertaking other studies where the preparation of an SMP is not appropriate
  • Acquiring land for the purpose of flood mitigation or stormwater infrastructure, in accordance with an approved SMP
  • Undertaking more detailed investigations into proposals contained in SMPs
  • Carrying out works in accordance with an approved SMP
  • Obtaining services related to stormwater management
  • Undertaking community education and awareness programmes relating to stormwater management
  • Conducting investigations, research, pilot programmes or other projects relating to stormwater management.

Ongoing operation and maintenance costs relating to stormwater infrastructure are not eligible for funding support.

How do I apply for funding from the Stormwater Management Fund?

Applications for funding support from the SMF must be submitted using the Stormwater Management Fund Application Form. Applicants should also read the Stormwater Management Fund Guide for Applicants.

For assistance, contact us.

How much funding can I apply for?

There is no upper or lower limit to the amount of funding that can be applied for. For more information, see the Stormwater Management Fund Guide for Applicants.

When can I apply to the Stormwater Management Fund?

Applications for Category A and B projects can be submitted at any time. Applications for Category C projects can be made when there is a call for applications. The most recent round closed on 13 September 2021. For more information, see the Stormwater Management Fund Guide for Applicants.