Karaaf Wetlands – Stormwater management


Surf Coast Shire Council recognises the significant environmental and cultural value of the Karaaf Wetlands.

We acknowledge community concerns about the impact of stormwater on the ecological health of the Karaaf Wetlands.

Whilst Parks Victoria is the land manager for the Karaaf Wetlands themselves, Surf Coast Shire Council is the management authority for stormwater systems immediately upstream of the wetlands.

We have therefore begun two pieces of work – a short term program to manage inflows into the wetlands and a longer term four-part project to investigate the impact of the stormwater system more broadly.

Short term works

  • Council is working with the EPA on an education and enforcement campaign to ensure nearby building sites are properly managing litter and soil dispersal.
  • Gross Pollutant Traps in north Torquay were cleaned in November 2021 and are scheduled for another clean and inspection at the end of January 2022.
  • Water quality testing within the wetland systems was carried out in December 2021 and the tests showed water quality was very good.
  • Council is liaising with the developer of the Dunes on their clean up program including weed removal, cleaning of litter, cleaning of sediment and silt. These works have begun are expected to be completed by the end of January 2022.
  • An preliminary audit of the Zeally Sands system was carried out by qualified wetland assessor  in December with the auditor reporting that the wetland is in a very good condition with no Typha weed present. A more detailed audit will take place in the next few weeks.


Longer-term project

Surf Coast Shire Council is working on a large-scale review on how the stormwater arrangements, under Council’s jurisdiction, impact on the Karaaf Wetlands.

The Karaaf Wetlands are managed by Parks Victoria, and have a catchment that straddles several local government areas.

Surf Coast Shire Council is the stormwater drainage authority for parts of the catchment to the north and west of the wetlands.

The Karaaf wetlands are of high environmental, community and cultural heritage significance.

Council’s review will comprise four elements:

An environmental assessment

Includes an evidence-based assessment of the current environmental condition of the Karaaf Wetlands and agreement on targets for environmental condition into the future.

Storm water network assessment

An assessment of the current state of the stormwater system, including a comparison of the system with the original masterplan design, and an assessment of how effectively the current system is operating in north Torquay.

Planning framework

Establishment of a legal framework and other mechanisms for confirming responsibilities and managing compliance in relation to maintenance of the stormwater management system.

Infrastructure plan

Development of an action plan for future capital works, including water sensitive urban design and any infrastructure strategies and projects identified through this four-part project.


Images in the wetlands

More about the Karaaf Wetlands

The wetlands have a complex history. They are impacted by natural processes as well as human-induced changes, and they experience seasonal changes. The first step is to establish baseline data.

The understanding gained from the above investigations will inform future changes to Council’s stormwater management.  

Once the data gathering is complete we will have a better picture of what the next steps should be.

We plan to have community and agency representation throughout the project.

A project control group comprising council officers, community members, agency representatives and other subject matter experts, will oversee the project

Our goal is an agreed management model for the stormwater that enters the Karaaf wetlands. This model will address environmental concerns now and into the future and include defined roles and responsibilities for all relevant agencies and groups.