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Wollongong City Council

Floods and Stormwater

Wollongong is naturally prone to flooding.

Our location between the mountains and the sea means flash flooding can often happen as water travels down the escarpment towards the ocean.

We work in line with the NSW Government’s guidelines for managing floodplains to reduce the impact of flooding.

For each catchment, there are three main steps for our research and planning:

  1. Flood Study. This looks at how flood waters are likely to behave, or move through the catchment.
  2. Floodplain Risk Management Study. This builds on the flood study to look at how flooding will affect the community. It also considers different options to reduce flood risk.
  3. Floodplain Risk Management Plan. This plan includes the actions and guidelines to be put into place to manage flood risk in the catchment.

Following planning, we put actions in place. This is called the implementation phase. Some of the key things we do include:

  • Setting planning rules to reduce the impact of flooding from, and on, new developments. This includes the Floodplain Management PDF, 7598.16 KB and Stormwater Management PDF, 5497.53 KB chapters of our Development Control Plan.
  • Building, upgrading and maintaining stormwater structures like channels, detention basins and debris control structures to reduce the risk of blockage and floods. See our Works and Projects page for details of current flood and stormwater works.
  • Purchasing eligible properties that have a high flood risk under a Voluntary Purchase Scheme. It's optional for owners to participate in the scheme, and funding availability is limited.
  • Providing flood information to help the community make informed decisions about buying or developing land.
  • Maintaining waterways managed by Council, and encouraging other land owners to maintain their waterways.
  • Planning how to respond and recover from floods. See our Floods and Storms emergency page for more information.

You can read about our research, planning and implementation for your area using the links on our Catchments page.

A catchment is an area that naturally collects water as it flows through the landscape. Wollongong’s catchments often have one or more main waterways – such as creeks or rivulets – that carry water towards the sea.

Visit our Catchments page for information about our research, plans and work on catchments in your area.

Bridges, culverts and stormwater channels can become blocked during floods. Understanding how blockage is likely to affect floodwater is a key part of our research and planning for floods.

To find our more, read the Wollongong Blockage Policy Review Summary Report. PDF, 1898.12 KB

Council looks after watercourses, including creeks, overflow paths and drainage pipes, on Council-owned land. We have a maintenance program for this.

The majority of watercourses across Wollongong are on private property. Maintenance of watercourses on private property is the responsibility of the land owner. If a watercourse is part of a legally created easement, it will usually be up to whoever has the benefit of the easement to maintain that part of the watercourse.

Council is unable to perform any work on watercourses that are on private property or easements that don't benefit Council.

Keep in mind that you will generally need to get approval from Council, and possibly other government agencies, for work that involves removing trees, excavation, scour protection, bank stabilisation, or where there are any threatened plant or animal species present.

If you need advice on the maintenance of watercourses, please email or call us on (02) 4227 7111.

Stormwater issues are a common problem for many residents due to our city's climate and topography. In some cases, it can cause disputes between neighbours.

In many cases, Council doesn't get involved in stormwater disputes between neighbours. However, we will investigate in some circumstances, if:

  • There is evidence that the surface water has caused, or is likely to cause, physical damage to land or buildings
  • The surface water has been directed towards a particular area by a man-made structure or drain, and
  • The surface water is the result of defective roof drainage from a dwelling or outbuilding such as a garage.

For more information or to report an issue, see our Drains and Stormwater Pits page.

In many cases, vegetation in watercourses can help reduce flood risk by slowing down the flow of stormwater, and preventing it from arriving all at once in areas where the creek bed flattens out, or where several creeks join up. This effect is very important because it helps prevent serious dangers like properties or roads being flooded by fast-flowing water in a short amount of time.

As well as helping to prevent flood hazards, appropriate creek vegetation adds beauty to our city, and provides vital habitat. It helps to manage water quality by filtering pollutants, regulates temperatures in urban areas, and reduces erosion.

Council's work in creeks on public land across includes reducing problematic creek vegetation such as weeds, and planting stable, low-maintenance vegetation. This supports our urban creeks without increasing flood risk.