Industry input is required on a proposal by the State Government to codify requirements for building over or near essential water infrastructure (up to 225 mm diameter) on private property (Class 1 and 10 Buildings). Under the proposed Code, local government Water Service Providers will be excluded from the approval process for all applications that meet the conditions stipulated under the Code. See Water Industry Feedback
At present, approvals for building over or near a councils water infrastructure require written consent from the council, and service providers across the state have developed different processes to deal with what can be an expensive and time consuming issue. In the past, improved consistency across the industry has been sought through:
- a non-mandatory Part of the Queensland Development Code (QDC) on Excavation and piling near sewers, stormwater drains and water mains,
- an industry-developed standard policy and technical guidelines for building over or near to existing council water infrastructure (see e Flash #54, February 2009 ),
- Water Service Association of Australia Building Over Sewer Guidelines (see www.wsaa.asn.au), which drew on information in the Queensland standard Policy.
However, there is still significant variation across the state.
In 2009 the SEQ restructuring Act required SEQ water service providers to produce joint technical standards relating to the design and construction of water infrastructure in the region. The draft SEQCode includes detailed provisions for building over or adjacent to assets and is currently available for public comment ( see http://www.seqcode.com.au/).
Mandatory Queensland Code?
Last year, Building Codes Queensland requested public comment on a proposal to mandate the current Non-Mandatory part 1.4 of the Queensland Development Code (QDC 1.4) - Excavation and Piling near Sewers, Stormwater Drains and Water Mains (see e Flash #135 – September 2011). Queensland Water Service Providers responded in favour of a more streamlined and consistent approach to this issue, but did not support the Code as drafted because it increased costs to communities and risks to public safety and did not allow service providers to mitigate risks to essential water and sewerage infrastructure. Instead, a joint process to develop a consistent set of guidelines was requested.
Last week BCQ informed qldwater that a final draft of the mandatory guidelines had been prepared and this was made available yesterday through Building and Plumbing Newsflash # 496. The Newsflash states that the proposed Code will remove current processes that “can delay building work and increase costs” and instead provide state-wide acceptable solutions and also allow the Building and Development Dispute Resolution Committees (BDDRC) to hear appeals on this type of building work in the first instance, resulting in a timely and cost-effective appeals process compared with the current process.
The new draft is significantly updated from the initial consultation draft but does not yet address the key concerns raised by Water Service Providers (WSPs). In summary, it applies to work on all classes of buildings over or adjacent to pipes up to 225 mm in diameter meaning all applications will be assessable by building certifiers rather than WSPs. For most building types (i.e. classes 2 to 9), WSPs will act as a concurrence agency to assess applications against the Code’s performance requirements. For Building Classes 1 and 10 (e.g. single dwelling detached house and sheds/retaining walls) which make up the majority of applications, WSPs will only be involved if the Building Certifier finds that the work does not comply.
Water Industry Feedback
qldwater is forming a temporary industry expert panel including the SEQ water entities developing the SEQCode to work with BCQ on the proposed mandatory Code to avoid duplication and promote consistency and stream-lining of applications while still protecting public health and infrastructure. We are seeking interested industry members to contribute to this process with a teleconference planned for 1:30 on Wednesday 18th July to discuss common issues. Please contact Rob Fearon (email@example.com or 0428 300 208) if you wish to participate.
The draft Code can be downloaded from the Department’s website along with explanatory notes. The consultation period is open until Tuesday 21 August and any input to the collated industry response being developed by qldwater is welcomed up to Friday 17 August (to firstname.lastname@example.org ). Feedback directly to Building Codes Queensland (BCQ) via email to should be sent to email@example.com with 'Attention: Draft QDC ' in the subject line.