Stormwater is runoff from roads, driveways and other surfaces following a rain or storm event. Find out what role stormwater plays in the urban water cycle and what we’re doing to support stormwater reuse.

Stormwater runoff is a large part of the urban water cycle. The built form of our cities and suburbs should complement this cycle, especially as stormwater is an alternative water supply for non-drinking uses.

Stormwater in the urban water cycle

The Swan Coastal Plain is characterised by predominantly sandy soils, which enables stormwater to infiltrate the ground and recharge the shallow aquifers. Some of this water is then used to irrigate gardens and ovals through shallow groundwater bores.

In the urban environment, stormwater can be:

  • locally recharged (soak wells, porous driveways etc.)
  • collected off roofs and sealed surfaces and reused by storing in a tank or the aquifer
  • collected by drains (primarily for flood protection) and then released back into the environment or reused.

Our role in managing WA's drainage system

Stormwater runoff often carries sediments, fertilizers and oils into our waterways and ocean. Treatment of the stormwater has to take place before it is reused.

Approaches to stormwater management depend on the scale of its application. Below you will find examples of how we support the use of stormwater at the precinct scale and what management options are available at the development and lot scale.

How are we supporting innovation in stormwater management?

We support research, non-government organisations and local community groups undertaking programs to reuse stormwater and improve the health of our waterways.

The following initiatives are categorised according to the scale of their application.

Water Corporation is one of the industry partners of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Water Sensitive Cities (WSC).  The CRC WSC is a 10-year national research program which launched in 2012 with a research budget of $100million. Working in partnership with over 70 academic, industry and government partners, it leverages research to deliver technical solutions, education and training programs, and enable industry engagement in the area of Water Sensitive Cities.

We have been actively involved in a number of CRC WSC projects, and a project working with the University of Western Australia is currently underway. This work is investigating how nutrients are transported in groundwater and surface water systems.

CRC Water Sensitive Cities projects

We are working with the Bayswater Brook Working Group to reduce the amount of nutrients entering the Swan River. A Local Water Quality Improvement Plan will aim to improve water quality in the catchment.

Bayswater Brook Catchment

Recent research completed by CSIRO, in collaboration with Water Corporation, analysed nutrient transport processes in urban drain catchments. Research outputs have increased our understanding of water quality issues associated with drainage and the interactions between groundwater and sediment removal.  

Water quality in the urban main drains managed by Water Corporation

How can you help?

There are a number of ways you can use stormwater and help protect our waterways within your home and garden.

  • Harvest: Capture rainwater for irrigating your garden
  • Replenish: Install porous surfaces to reduce runoff around your home
  • Care and Protect: Manage household chemicals so they don’t reach our waterways
  • Ask: Contact your local council to see how they are managing stormwater in your area. If you are currently building a property you can discuss with your developer how Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) principles can be integrated in the structure
  • Join: You might also like to volunteer in a local environmental group. The Conservation Volunteers facilitate a range of projects you can get involved in and don’t forget that your local council may run conservation initiatives and environmental groups in your area

Information about alternative water sources