Stormwater management manual of Western Australia

Principles, objectives and approaches of stormwater management.
Last updated: 15 May 2023

Stormwater management aims to build on the traditional objective of local flood protection by having multiple outcomes, including improved water quality management, valuing stormwater as a resource, protecting ecosystems, and providing healthy attractive communities. It examines how the runoff quantity, and associated pollutants, can be managed from source to the receiving water bodies using a range of best management practices available.

This manual presents a comprehensive approach to management of stormwater in WA, based on the principle that stormwater is a resource – with social, environmental, and economic opportunities.

About the manual

Adoption of the practices contained in the manual will lead to better management of parklands, waterways, estuaries, wetlands and oceans, and will help prevent fish kills and pollution events.

The manual’s purpose is to provide a consistent approach to a variety of stormwater management options that may be suitable to a range of built environments throughout Western Australia. The overarching stormwater management objective embraces the principle of sustainability, to achieve a balance of economic, social and environmental outcomes through policy, planning and development.

The Stormwater management manual is maintained through a continuous improvement and review program. As part of this, the Decision process (chapter 4) was reviewed in detail and updated in 2017, and the whole manual was reviewed and updated in 2022 to ensure all information contained in the document was correct and up-to-date.

Who is the manual for?

  • Local government
  • Industry
  • Developers
  • State agencies
  • Service providers
  • Community groups

What the manual provides

It provides principles, objectives, and detailed design information. It supports and provides information to enable implementation of Western Australian Planning Commission planning policies and Environmental Protection Authority environmental policies. It also provides specific Western Australian guidance in keeping with the national guides:

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Describes what stormwater is and outlines the purpose of the manual, the intended audience of the manual and how the manual can help.

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Chapter 2 - Understanding the context

Describes the reasons for improving stormwater management and provides the principles, objectives, key roles, and responsibilities for stormwater management in WA.

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Chapter 3 - Superseded

This chapter is superceded by Draft State Planning Policy 2.9 Planning for Water (WAPC 2021).

Chapter 4 - Superseded

This chapter is superceded by the Decision process for stormwater management in Western Australia (DWER 2017).

Chapter 5 - Stormwater Management Plans

Provides guidelines on the preparation, implementation and review of stormwater management plans for catchment areas and local government areas. The plans address urban stormwater quantity and quality from a management perspective, rather than a development perspective, to ensure that ecological, social/cultural and economic values are protected and enhanced, and that management issues are addressed in a coordinated manner.

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Chapter 6 - Retrofitting

Explains issues to be addressed and presents structural tools for improving stormwater management in existing urban developments through modification of existing stormwater systems, or installation of additional/alternative stormwater management devices and approaches. Includes case studies and examples that demonstrate how to undertake retrofitting projects.

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Chapter 7 - Non-structural controls

Describes the initiatives available to manage the quantity and reduce pollution of stormwater by optimising practices of local government operations, State Government asset managers, industrial/commercial businesses and householders, through mechanisms such as maintenance practices, regulation, strategic planning and education. Describes non-structural controls, their benefits, use, effectiveness and evaluation. Provides advice on how to select and implement non-structural controls. Provides technical guidelines on the most relevant non-structural controls.

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Chapter 8 - Education and awareness for stormwater management

Presents ways to prepare and deliver education programs to reduce the amount of pollution that enters the stormwater system.

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Chapter 9 - Structural controls

Describes structural measures that can be designed and located in a catchment undergoing new development or retrofitted within an existing development to manage the quantity of stormwater runoff and prevent or treat stormwater pollution. Provides an overview of the benefits, use, effectiveness and evaluation of each type of structural control. Provides information on the selection of structural controls. Provides technical guidelines on the most relevant structural controls. Includes case studies and examples.

See the Cooperative Research Centre for Water Sensitive Cities’ Adoption Guidelines for Stormwater Biofiltration Systems (2015) for more up-to-date advice on designing, constructing and maintaining biofilters (also known as bioretention systems and rain gardens). Additionally, the Vegetation guidelines for stormwater biofilters in the south-west of Western Australia (2014) have been published to assist in vegetation selection for biofilters in south-west WA. A summary practice note of the vegetation guidelines is also available.

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Chapter 10 – Performance management and evaluation

Provides information on establishing a monitoring and evaluation program that tracks the trends and performance of structural and non-structural stormwater management practices. Examples are included to demonstrate the methodologies promoted in the chapter.

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Chapter 11 – Further information

Provides a glossary of terms used in the manual and some useful contacts, websites, and references for obtaining further information about stormwater management.

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