Your storm water drains are located around the exterior of your house and can usually be identified by the downpipes coming from your roof. Along with roadside gutters, they connect directly to our waterways, estuaries and the beach, so we need to be careful how we dispose of our unclean run-off.
There were several stream pollution incidents recently as people carried out DIY projects at home and then used outside drains to wash down paint brushes and gib stopping equipment. Our urban streams have many ecosystems in them and contaminants like paint and household pesticides can poison fish, eels and in some instances dogs that have been in the stream.
Here are some common ways pollution enters our streams from the things you might be doing at home:
- Detergents, oil and heavy metals from washing cars
- Paint from people washing brushes in the street gutter or over a storm water drain
- Dust from cleaning down gib-stopping equipment
- Oil from leaking vehicles
All these pollutants end up in our streams and rivers where they reduce the quality of the water, making it unsuitable for swimming or drinking and difficult for plants and fish to survive.
How you can help:
Washing your car:
- Wash it on the grass as grass acts as a natural filter. Use a bucket rather than a hose, to minimise water use and runoff.
- Clean up oil spills, fix leaking cars, collect and recycle used motor oil.
DIY painting or gib-stopping – these products contain toxic chemicals which are harmful to the environment:
- Wash brushes over grass or in a laundry sink (inside drains go to the sewage system for treatment)
- Small amounts of waste paint can be left to completely dry in the tin, and then be disposed of in your general rubbish.
- Save unnecessary washing by wrapping your paint brush or roller in cling wrap or a plastic bag. This will prevent them drying out for at least an hour.
Before doing things like exterior painting or water blasting find out where the nearest storm water sump is, seal it off and divert waste water onto your lawn or garden
What do I do if I see someone dumping into a storm water drain?
If it’s someone you know – tell them that what they’re dumping is going to end up in our streams and estuary, and encourage them to do the right thing. If you see a stranger dumping into a storm water drain, please call the Council as soon as possible on 03-5438400.