Karaaf Wetlands – FAQs


What is Council doing about concerns regarding the water quality in Karaaf wetlands?

Council takes its environmental responsibilities very seriously. And we acknowledge the environmental significance of the Karaaf wetlands.

In recognition of the importance of the stormwater drainage system on the health of the wetlands we commissioned the design of a stormwater masterplan prior to the development of Torquay North to ensure there was a cohesive system for management of stormwater.

Now it’s time to check how the system is performing. In October 2021 we began a major review of the catchment comprising four elements:

  • An environmental assessment
  • Storm water network assessment
  • Planning framework
  • Infrastructure plan

We acknowledge stormwater is impacting on the ecology of the Karaaf Wetlands. Overall water quality is good but we do need to better understand the impact of fresh water flows into the Karaaf.

Sediment from work-sites may be another factor impacting on downstream wetlands.

In the short term we have:

  • Begun additional pumping of water to reduce overflow in peak times
  • A campaign to ensure nearby building sites are properly managing litter and soil dispersal
  • Introduced a new maintenance program

In the longer term our four-stage review will investigate the issues at a catchment wide level in collaboration with other land managers and community representatives.

When will Council’s project be finished?

The timeline for the four projects are:

  • Project One: Environmental assessment                 Final draft mid 2022
  • Project Two: Stormwater Network Assessment:      Final draft mid 2022
  • Project Three: Planning Framework:                        Final recommendations mid 2022
  • Project Four: Infrastructure Planning:                       Final recommendations Oct 2022

What is the purpose of developer built wetlands?

Constructed wetlands provide a way to manage stormwater in a way that delivers better environmental outcomes than traditional underground drainage.

Wetlands are designed to filter water as it makes its way downstream. The shape of the basins and the plantings trap sediment and create habitat.

Who is responsible for maintenance of developer built wetlands?

The maintenance responsibility remains with the developer for two years after completion of their subdivision.

During this period, Council takes an active role in monitoring the wetlands.

The wetland must be maintained and presented for handover in a condition to Council’s satisfaction.

Inspections, audits and requests for works will occur until Council is happy with the condition of the wetland for handover.

Who is responsible for managing the Karaaf Wetlands?

Parks Victoria is the land manager for the Karaaf Wetlands. Surf Coast Shire Council is the drainage authority for stormwater that flows into the wetlands.

Is development impacting on the Karaaf wetlands?

 In 2010 the Corangamite Catchment Management Authority mapped the vegetation in the Karaaf Wetlands. Similar investigations were undertaken by the Arthur Rylah Institute in 2017 (published in 2020).

These studies found the vegetation in the Karaaf to be mostly in excellent condition, though the 2020 report noted freshwater wetlands had overtaken the estuarine communities to ‘a small extent’ at the stormwater outlet from upstream urban development.

Council considers community amenity and environmental protection when we assess development proposals.

In recognition of the high environmental values we commissioned an expert drainage design before development commenced.

It’s time to check how the system is performing. Urban stormwater run-off is one factor we will be investigating through this project.