Skip to content
Resources > Latest News > New wsud maintenance compliance framework open for consultation

New WSUD Maintenance Compliance Framework open for consultation

Effective Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) asset maintenance is a challenge facing the stormwater community around Australia, but a new compliance framework is being developed to provide a clear pathway on how to improve management of private and public WSUD assets.

The Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) Maintenance Compliance Framework will be a package of information, resources and tools for councils to use to support the implementation of compliance programs to improve the maintenance of WSUD systems.

Consultation is now open for feedback on the latest draft of the framework, with the National WSUD Compliance Network hearing from the project lead and Ocean Project Water Sensitive Urban Design Specialist Daniel Rider last month about the new draft.

The framework is intended to provide a range of benefits in pursuit of improved WSUD maintenance compliance, pooling the best information, resources and tools for councils, and providing a platform for knowledge sharing on WSUD maintenance compliance.

“The impacts of inadequate maintenance can include increased dangers to the health and safety of the public and environment,” Rider said.

“Further, the responsibility of stormwater management falls on to local and state governments, meaning local and state governments have a legal responsibility to properly manage this infrastructure.”

The WSUD Maintenance Compliance Framework was released last week as a consultation draft and is available for industry to offer feedback on until 19 August 2024.

“At the moment, we are involved in this first stage of the project, which is to develop a model for a compliance program looking at WSUD assets. We are now in the consultation period for stage one, where people can help refine that model by providing feedback and input,” Rider said.

“The next stage will look at developing a system for assistance. We’ll be looking at resources, information and training that could help councils and industry implement these programs at the council level.”

Rider said the third stage of the Framework’s development will be ongoing, looking at councils implementing the Framework to inform continuous improvement.

“There’s nothing to say that councils can't start today looking at and implementing this work now. But these are the three stages being implemented to ensure we cover everyone's ideas and ensure the framework meets the needs of the industry,” he said.

The WSUD Maintenance Compliance Framework

Rider said there are three main components to the WSUD Maintenance Compliance Framework, including guidelines, process maps and a ‘mock-up’ information management system.

“The guideline provides plenty of information, including instructions and resources to help councils understand how a compliance program could operate. The process maps accompany that to show people visually how the process works and to explain different pathways through the program,” he said.

“The mock-up information management systems shows councils and stakeholders how they could potentially manage the information within the program.”

The WSUD Maintenance Compliance Program guideline includes an introduction to the Framework and relevant law around WSUD maintenance compliance, as well as an outline of the five WSUD compliance processes proposed under the Framework.

“The Framework proposes five processes. There is a development process and identification process, these are two of the first processes a WSUD system can go through,” Rider said.

“The development process is where development conditions are being imposed and enforced on developments. While the identification process is looking at WSUD systems that already exist on properties that are already operating and being used.

“We have these two different processes in the Framework to make sure that all WSUD systems can be captured.”

These two starting points lead into the operational process, Rider said: “private and public properties with WSUD systems are welcomed into the program, but the property is responsible for making sure the asset is being maintained in accordance with council’s requirements”.

“That requires the submission of an annual report on compliance. At the end of that process, there is a decision for councils to make about whether they want to conduct audits or not,” Rider said.

“If they don't conduct an audit on a property they will stay within the operational process. If an audit is required, there will first be a desktop audit to review reports, data and paperwork that can be reviewed from an office.

“If the property is not shown to be compliant, it would go into a property audit, which is where council goes to the property to see if things are compliant and working. If the property is not compliant, it would move into the enforcement process. The enforcement processes will differ between councils, however, this can include things like additional fines or other legal action.”

Legislation review

The WSUD Maintenance Compliance Framework has been informed by a formal review of legislation across New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria by a team of lawyers, Rider said.

“The findings varied from state to state, but the review showed that the legal requirements include that these assets have been put in place to prevent environmental harm, not maintaining these causes environmental harm, and environmental harm is illegal,” he said.

“The penalties and consequences for that will vary between states and depending on the situation, but not maintaining assets could be considered illegal.”

“On top of that there are development conditions and agreements that could be in place for maintenance to happen. Not following that could lead to legal consequences, too. Further, environmental harm can apply to public assets but also private assets.”

Aside from the need to ensure the legislative requirements were firmly embedded within the Framework, Rider said providing a way of managing all this information is also a crucial part of the model.

“The aim was to make a system that could be useful for councils across Australia, however, every council has different systems in place. The mock-up information management system shows how it could be managed,” he said.

“But the intention is that councils then adjust the system to suit their specific needs, or take it to their internal IT team to improve the systems and processes that the council is using.

There is a user guide for how to use the WSUD information management system, as well as a property register for collating high-level info about properties, including contact details, address information, compliance status, and an asset register.

“Councils can take this Framework and run with it. It can be modified to every council's situation. It can also be built upon, so councils can add whatever they like to it, too,” Rider said.