Actions and activities around our homes and public spaces directly affect the health of the waterways. Hard surfaces like roads and footpaths prevent the natural absorption of rain into the ground and gradual transport into the groundwater or waterways. Instead, rain that falls on a hard surface is flushed directly into our rivers and creeks through the stormwater system. This occurs through the stormwater pits and drains from our streets and flows into the outlets in the Ovens River and creeks throughout the municipality. Cleared farmland also produce increased runoff to the waterways.
Unlike the sewage water which travels from your bathroom, kitchen and laundry to the wastewater treatment plant, no filtering or treatment is carried out for stormwater. So anything else that was on the street or your property will also end up in the rivers and creeks. Litter, chemicals, sediments and animal waste all create problems for the freshwater ecosystems and us – we drink from the river too! Even organic matter like leaf litter has a detrimental impact on the health of our waterways – rapid decomposition of this uses up oxygen in the water and creates excess nutrients. This can produce algal blooms.
Council is responsible for the maintenance of the stormwater infrastructure and actively works to reduce pollution entering our rivers and creeks. If the whole community is aware and acts responsibly, stormwater contamination can be prevented.