The Northern Tasmanian Stormwater Program (NTSP) is a regional partnership between NRM North, TasWater and councils within Tasmania’s northern NRM region, that aims to manage threats to water quality and ecological health that are linked to stormwater pollution, through continued management improvements and industry education.
A key role of the NTSP is to facilitate improved implementation of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) and improved sediment and erosion control practices throughout the northern Tasmania NRM region. To ensure only clean rainwater runoff is entering the stormwater system, the NTSP aims to raise community awareness about how everyone can improve stormwater management.
Stormwater is a term used to describe rainwater runoff in urban areas from roofs, driveways, roads, car parks, paved areas, gardens and other open spaces. Some runoff water soaks into the ground, evaporates or is captured by rainwater tanks but most enters stormwater drains and flows directly into our natural waterways, which are home to sensitive aquatic animals and plants and used for many recreational and economic activities.
Historically, dense vegetation helped to slow rainwater runoff and minimised erosion, however vegetation clearing and installation of sealed surfaces (roads, car parks, roofs etc.) through urban development increases the amount of stormwater runoff and pollutants entering waterways.
NRM North started the Northern Tasmanian Stormwater Program in 2011, in partnership with TasWater and all councils within Tasmania’s northern NRM region. Through the program, a stormwater officer works with program partners to:
In 2013, the NRM North Regional Stormwater Quality Management Strategy (SQMS) was developed to help achieve such improvements. The SQMS includes a snapshot of current stormwater management, information and actions for improved management, plans and tools to help councils and developers implement stormwater quality improvement measures and calculate costs associated with Water Sensitive Urban Design.
Soil & Erosion Control
Throughout building and construction activities it is important to adopt best practice soil and water management measures onsite. Fact sheets are available to help the building and construction industry comply with their responsibilities and gain a practical understanding of the accepted guidelines for soil and water management. These guidelines will help mitigate the impacts of building and construction site activities on soils, landforms and receiving waters by focusing on erosion and sediment control measures.
Stormwater runoff is mostly untreated, transporting pollutants collected as it flows through urban areas directly into natural waterways. Such pollutants can be harmful to aquatic organisms and ourselves, and can generally impact on the health and natural beauty of Tasmania’s waterways.
Stormwater pollutants such as oil, grease, fuels, fertilisers, herbicides, pesticides, detergents, chemicals, litter and heavy metals which aren’t naturally found in our waterways can be toxic and dangerous even in small amounts. Other pollutants like soils, nutrients from organic wastes (lawn clippings, leaves) and bacteria (animal droppings) are naturally found in waterways but are now there in such large amounts that they too can be harmful.
Before the development of urban areas, Tasmania was covered with dense vegetation which helped to slow the flow of stormwater. This allowed more time for stormwater to soak into the ground, which reduced the amount of stormwater runoff. This vegetation also helped soak up some of the stormwater and nutrients it may have been carrying, with root systems that acted as anchors to trap sediment and prevent erosion.
As our population has grown and urban areas have expanded, much of this vegetation has been cleared and replaced with sealed surfaces like roofs, driveways, roads, car parks and pavements, preventing rainwater from soaking into the ground. Rainwater commonly collects pollutants deposited by vehicles we drive, pollutants from our gardens and stray pieces of litter which end up in stormwater systems, before ultimately discharging to our natural waterways.
Historically stormwater management focused on draining urban areas as quickly as possible during rainfall events. This approach has been very effective in flood mitigation, but unfortunately, equally effective in washing large amounts of pollution directly into our waterways.
Declining water quality and ecological health in urban waterways has led stormwater managers to review traditional approaches to managing stormwater. The focus stayed on flood mitigation, but grew to include the preservation and restoration of urban waterways as well as the use of stormwater as a resource. This review process saw the birth of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) in Perth during the early 1990s, a new approach to stormwater management which has since spread across Australia, continually evolving along the way. You can learn more in our Water program publications & resources.
Throughout building and construction activities it is important to adopt best practice soil and water management measures onsite. Exposed and eroded soils are easily washed away during rainfall events as sediment, which is a major source of pollution to urban waterways. Large amounts of sediment in waterways can be harmful to aquatic organisms (e.g. fish and plants) and can silt up streams and block stormwater pipes leading to increased flooding. Sediment also often transports other pollutants such as oils, heavy metals and hydrocarbons from building and construction sites into local waterways. Fact sheets outlining Tasmanian guidelines for soil and water management on building and construction sites can be found in our publications & resources.
There are plenty of things we can do at home to prevent pollutants from mixing in with stormwater, including: improving garden design to minimise erosion, eliminating toxic substances and nutrients from flowing into drains, installing rainwater tanks, absorbant yards or raingardens and placing rubbish into waste bins. More information about these practical measures can be found in our publications & resources.
Return to the Water Program.
Learn how we are working together for healthy waterways.
Shared information and resources to improve the management strategies used at Lake Trevallyn.
Monthly monitoring data collected under the Ecosystem Health Assessment Program is used to produce the Tamar Estuary Report Card.