What is stormwater?

Stormwater is water that comes from precipitation (rain, snow, sleet, and hail) that does not infiltrate into the ground but instead runs off urban surfaces such as roofs, roads, pavements, and landscaped areas into streets and stormwater drainage systems. 

During severe weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall, gales, and storms, flooding can occur from stormwater runoff and cause devastation in both commercial and residential areas, including:

  1. Buildings, houses, and infrastructure being damaged.
  2. Floodwaters can carry hazardous substances, putting public health at risk.
  3. Disruption in business and everyday life: Flooding can force businesses out of work and residents to flee, resulting in lost revenue and disrupted lives.
  4. Flooding has the potential to destroy power lines and other electrical infrastructure which can cause  resulting in widespread power outages.
  5. Floodwaters can contaminate drinking water and cause food shortages
  6. Floods can destabilise soil, which increases the risk of landslides and mudslides.

How do stormwater systems function?

Stormwater systems typically function by collecting and draining rainwater runoff from built-up areas, such as cities and suburbs. The main components of a stormwater drainage system include cesspits, storm water drains, and discharge pipes. Here’s how they work:

Cesspit: Cesspits are inlets that are designed to collect stormwater runoff from streets, sidewalks, and other impervious surfaces. They act as the starting point for the stormwater drainage system, capturing rainwater and directing it into the storm sewer.

Stormwater drain: Stormwater drains underground pipes that transport the collected stormwater from the Cesspits to discharge points, such as rivers, streams, or other bodies of water. Depending on size, they are designed to handle large volumes of water during heavy rain events.

Discharge pipes: Discharge pipes are the endpoint of the stormwater drainage system, directing the collected water to a suitable discharge location. In some cases, stormwater may be treated before being discharged to improve its quality and reduce its impact on the environment.

How does stormwater runoff affect the environment?

Stormwater runoff is a major concern that may have serious consequences on the environment. During floods caused by stormwater runoff, contaminants like oil, grease, chemicals, fertilisers, and trash are run over surfaces like roads and parking lots and deposits them in neighbouring rivers. 

This can cause water contamination and destroy aquatic species, making survival in certain circumstances challenging.

How does stormwater impact residential plumbing systems?

Stormwater may have a substantial impact on residential plumbing systems, especially during severe rain events. Flooding from stormwater may overwhelm basements and crawl spaces, causing water damage and subsequent mould development.

Excess water can also clog sewage systems, generating backups and sewage spills that are hazardous to both the environment and people’s health.

In addition to possible physical damage, stormwater can cause problems with the plumbing system itself. Excess water can strain pipes, resulting in leaks and breaks, as well as clogging pipes with debris.

This can result in reduced water flow and pressure, as well as full blockages requiring plumbing system repair or replacement. Proper stormwater management and frequent plumbing maintenance will help prevent these issues and keep residential plumbing systems running smoothly.

Impact on plumbing, drainage and hot water systems

Protecting plumbing, drainage, and hot water systems during floods is critical for keeping a residential home operational. Here are some precautions to take if your home has been impacted by flooding:

  1. Install backflow preventers: Installing backflow preventers on sewer lines can prevent sewage from backing up into the home during a flood.
  2. Seal pipes and fixtures: Sealing pipes, fixtures, and other openings in the foundation with silicone caulk or expanding foam can help prevent water from seeping into the home and damaging the plumbing system.
  3. Disconnect electrical power: Disconnecting the electrical power to appliances and systems such as water heaters, boilers, and sump pumps can prevent electrical damage and ensure the safety of the homeowner.
  4. Move valuables: Moving valuable items such as furniture, electronics, and appliances to higher ground can prevent damage from flood waters.
  5. Install a sump pump: Installing a sump pump can help pump water out of the basement or crawlspace and prevent damage to the home and its systems.
  6. Check for leaks: After the flood, inspect the plumbing and drainage systems for any signs of damage, such as leaks, cracks, or corrosion.

How to deal with stormwater runoff?

Dealing with stormwater runoff requires a number of tactics and procedures aimed at preventing floods, erosion, and contamination of water resources. 

To properly control stormwater runoff, suitable drainage infrastructure such as cesspits, stormwater drains and discharge pipes must be installed, as well as best management techniques such as rain gardens, permeable pavements, and green roofs.

These practices can help to reduce the volume of runoff, improve water quality, and prevent erosion.

Furthermore, adding green infrastructure into the design of buildings and landscapes, as well as lowering the quantity of impervious surfaces in urban areas, may play an important role in stormwater management. 

It is also critical to enhance public knowledge about the importance of stormwater management and the role that citizens may play to prevent flooding. 

What is stormwater management?

Stormwater management is the collection, treatment, and disposal of precipitation runoff from developed areas to reduce floods, erosion, and contamination of water supplies.

Stormwater management is a crucial aspect of urban planning, as it aims to mitigate the impact of heavy rainfall on built-up areas.

In the aftermath of a stormwater disaster, such as a flash flood, the consequences can be severe, including damage to property, displacement of people, and contamination of water resources. 

Why is stormwater management important?

Managing stormwater systems can achieve a range of benefits for both the environment and the community. It helps to reduce the risk of flooding, erosion, and water pollution, which can protect homes, businesses, and urban areas. 

It also helps to maintain the health and quality of local waterways, preserving the environment and supporting wildlife. 

Additionally, effective stormwater management can improve water quality, conserve water resources, and reduce the amount of energy required to treat and transport water. 

By implementing proper stormwater management techniques, communities can ensure the health and sustainability of their environment and infrastructure for years to come.

What are the most effective stormwater management solutions?

There are many effective ways you can improve your stormwater drainage and systems, including:

Green roofs and walls

Green roofs and walls can help reduce stormwater runoff by absorbing water into the vegetation and soil. This helps reduce the amount of runoff that flows into local waterways, reducing the risk of flooding and erosion.

Rain gardens

Rain gardens are shallow depressions that are filled with plants that can absorb stormwater. They are a great way to manage stormwater runoff, especially in urban areas where there is limited space for conventional stormwater management solutions.

Rain Tanks

Rain tanks are containers that collect rainwater from roof gutters. This collected rainwater can be used for irrigation, reducing the amount of water used from the public supply. Rain tanks also help reduce the amount of stormwater runoff, helping to prevent flooding and erosion.

Stormwater ponds

Stormwater ponds are large, man-made structures that are designed to store and manage stormwater runoff. They can help prevent flooding and erosion, and can also improve water quality by removing pollutants from the runoff.

How to clear stormwater pipes

To clear stormwater pipes, property owners need to identify the location of the blockage, either by checking drain covers or manholes near the area where water is backing up.

If the blockage is minor, a plunger can be used to suction out the debris and clear the pipe. If the blockage is visible, it can be removed with gloves and a bucket, being careful not to flush any harmful materials down the drain. 

For deeper or larger blockages, a hydroblaster can be used to break it up and clear the way. In case the blockage is too deep or large, it’s advisable to call a professional plumber to clear the pipes.

Regular inspections and maintenance of stormwater pipes can help to prevent future blockages and ensure proper functioning.

A force not be reckoned with

Stormwater runoff control is a critical concern for all cities, especially in New Zealand. By taking adequate steps to ensure our stormwater system is operating efficiently, we can help avoid damage to homes, businesses, and other structures, as well as lessen the potential of harm to public health and the environment.

If your residential property has recently had its plumbing, drainage or hot water systems disrupted as a result of Auckland’s flooding, get in touch with our team today and we will help in whatever way we can. 

Good stormwater management is critical to our communities health and safety.