Retarding Basins

Melbourne water manages over 200 retarding basins as part of our world class drainage system.They are designed to reduce flooding by catching heavy rainfall and hold it in a reserved low lying area of land.

2 October 2017
Audio described version

Melbourne Water – Retarding Basins


Narrator – N1


N1: Melbourne Water works with council to manage a world-class drainage system.

This drainage system helps transport, and in some cases cleans the city’s stormwater that falls from the sky and runs off roads and other hard surfaces.

Our drainage system is separate to our sewerage system which transports sewerage from our homes to the sewage treatment plants.

Retarding basins are an important feature of the drainage system that helps to reduce flooding. They’re designed to catch heavy rainfall and hold it in a reserved low lying area of land. This is known as a basin and is a better alternative to overloading the underground drains and potentially flooding properties.

Melbourne Water manages over 200 retarding basins across Melbourne.

They are critical in built-up areas. Pavements, driveways and other hard surfaces create more run-off meaning the water is less likely to soak into the ground.

Some basins also provide other benefits to the community. When they are not full of water, they can be recreational areas for walking and playing.

Other retarding basin sites are also listed as sites of biological significance. That’s when a site has important vegetation which provides habitat for vulnerable or endangered species of reptiles, frogs or birds.

Retarding basins are designed to meet national standards, protecting communities living near or downstream from them. Sometimes maintenance works are required to ensure their safety, like pulling out trees because their roots can weaken the levee wall or pulling debris out of the basin outlet.

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For more information about Melbourne Water visit or call us on 131 722.

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