Whitehorse City Council

Drainage Schemes

Many residential areas in the City of Whitehorse were developed in the late 1940s, before legislation was introduced that ensured developers provided appropriate infrastructure for new residential areas. As a result, some older areas experience flooding during wet weather periods, due to inadequate drainage infrastructure. Where there is a need, Council may investigate and proceed with the installation of new drains as a Drainage Scheme. These are carried out as a Special Charge Scheme under the provisions of the Local Government Act.

How will a Drainage Scheme Benefit Property Owners?

The benefits of a Drainage Scheme are not always obvious; however, some important benefits are:

  • Increased protection from flooding and damp/wet property
  • Provision of an adequate system of drainage to take water from your property
    Improved public health 

What if the Property Owner Does Not Have a Drainage Problem?

In cases where Drainage Schemes are proposed, you may not experience any direct water problem on your property. However, your property together with other properties may be discharging stormwater and causing problems to lower level properties.

This is particularly the case for properties located on hills or at the higher end of a drainage catchment. In this situation, your property will benefit by way of direct connection to a new drain so that properties at a lower level will receive protection from the drain.  

How is a Drainage Scheme Set Up?

A Drainage Scheme may be initiated in two ways:  

  • As a consequence of Council's program for drainage improvements
  • Where Council itself, members of the public, residents, Council officers or external statutory authorities request Council to make infrastructure improvements in a particular area

Once initiated, Council firstly determines whether property owners are interested in obtaining detailed information about a Drainage Scheme. If the majority of owners show interest, then a concept proposal including preliminary costs is prepared for further consultation with owners. Property owners are then given an opportunity to indicate whether they support Council formally giving notice of its 'Intention to Declare a Special Charge Scheme', which begins the formal process as required by the Local Government Act. A number of further steps are involved in a Special Charge Scheme and are fully detailed in Council's Special Charge Scheme Policy, which is available at Council's Customer Service Centres.  

What Happens When a Drainage Scheme is Introduced?

Once property owners have indicated their support for the proposed scheme, Council will formally notify owners of its 'Intention to Declare a Special Charge Scheme'. This means the scheme is publicly advertised and owners, who will be apportioned costs, are given an opportunity to lodge a written submission to Council, either supporting or opposing the scheme.

Council must consider all submissions received and may resolve to adopt, modify or abandon the scheme. If Council adopts the scheme, all owners are notified and given the opportunity to refer their submission to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) for independent review. VCAT may:

  • Uphold any of the submissions
  • Overrule any submission and approve the scheme with or without modification
    Abandon the scheme

If the Drainage Scheme proceeds, Council contractors carry out construction under the supervision of Council officers.  

Who Pays for a Drainage Scheme? 

Property owners finance Drainage Schemes. Council apportions costs based on the Local Government Act and guidelines made by the Minister for Local Government, with funding provided by property owners that are deemed to receive special benefit from the scheme. Calculations are generally based on the area of a property, with properties on both the higher and lower side of the drain deemed to receive equal benefit.  

Why Do Property Owners Pay and Not Council?

Drainage Schemes are carried out for the benefit of a particular area. In many cases, other property owners have paid for their own drainage through an earlier Drainage Scheme or at the time of purchasing their property. They rightly argue that they should not have to pay again for someone else's scheme.

Many property owners may also believe they have an adequate drainage solution because they have installed soak pits or private drains between properties. Soak pits do not absorb all run-off during excessive wet periods and private drains are typically not maintained and break down over time. Some properties may also be illegally draining into the sewage system. These are not considered satisfactory drainage solutions.