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As Victoria grows, so do the number of sealed surfaces like roofs and roads. Rainfall on these sealed surfaces becomes surface run-off, or urban stormwater. Stormwater carries pollutants into waterways, wetlands, beaches and bays. Large amounts of urban stormwater cause erosion and harm aquatic ecosystems.

How to manage risks from urban stormwater

The Urban stormwater management guidance (publication 1739) can help you understand the risks from urban stormwater. It is intended to help improve the management of urban stormwater in Victoria. It will also form part of the state of knowledge and support the preventative focus of the general environmental duty under the Environment Protection Act 2017 (the Act). It helps to minimise the risk of harm to human health an the environment through good environmental practice, and it provides information that will support the planning and design of new urban stormwater management systems. The guidance:

  • highlights the risk to waterways and bays the creation of sealed (impervious) surfaces causes
  • provides general objectives and information to support risk assessment and minimisation
  • explains stormwater management for communities in Victoria.

CSIRO published the Urban stormwater best practice environmental guidelines (BPEM) in 1999. The Urban stormwater management guidance (publication 1739) complements and adds to the state of knowledge established through previous guidance, including the BPEM and planning requirements.

Under the Victorian Planning Provisions (VPP) many developments must design urban stormwater systems to meet the BPEM objectives. This means you must reduce levels of certain substances compared to the typical urban annual load.

  • suspended solids: 80 per cent
  • phosphorus and nitrogen: 45 per cent
  • litter: 70 per cent.

Guidance development

In late 2020, EPA sought public feedback on the Draft urban stormwater management guidance. This followed targeted preliminary engagement with reference groups and key stakeholders involved in stormwater management . We consulted with:

  • Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning
  • Melbourne Water
  • Victorian Planning Authority
  • local government
  • construction and infrastructure industry
  • community
  • the water industry.

You can view the submissions and our response in Urban stormwater response to comments (publication 1972). This report responds to issues raised in the submissions and how we have addressed key issues that resulted in changes to the draft guidance.

We also published Review of stormwater science (publication 1919) to support the guidance development.

Other stormwater work

Councils have obligations to develop stormwater management plans under Clause 34 (4) of the SEPP (Waters). Owners of stormwater assets have obligations to maintain those assets under Clause 34 (3).

The Act commenced 1 July 2021, and these clauses are saved in Transitional Regulations for two years. EPA will investigate and engage on how these clauses might transition after 2023.

EPA will investigate the development of Orders for Managers of Land or Infrastructure where appropriate. We'll develop these with relevant land or infrastructure managers.

Victoria Planning Provisions

EPA’s new guidance won’t change existing VPP requirements for stormwater system design. Updates to the VPP or other regulatory schemes may be considered in future.

Reviewed 12 May 2021