Civil Drainage Guide

What Is Civil Drainage and Why Is It Important

The word ‘Civil’ relates to or involves the general public, their activities, needs, or ways, or civic affairs of citizens, states and/or communities (Merriam-Webster, 2021). ‘ Drainage’ refers to the act, process, or mode of draining; a device for draining; and/or an area or district drained (Merriam-Webster, 2021). From these dictionary definitions, it maybe infererred that ‘civil drainage’ refers to an area; or system; or system of devices that facilitates the act or process of draining in a city/state/ community space; where citizens are actively present.

When it comes to public or active communal spaces, ‘civil drainage’ is not the first thing you think of. However, ‘civil drainage’ can make or break a public space. When done wrong, civil drainage can cause all sorts of disasters – flooding, pooling, slips and falls. When done right, a well designed civil drainage system ensures that the puplic space is fit for purpose and activities, operations and functions run smoothly.

How to Design Effective Civil Drainage Systems

A well designed civil drainage system has many features. It is quiet, discreet, barely visible and highly effective in removing water from the space.

In Australia, there is legislated code of practice around drainage and plumbing systems. Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) or Volume 3 of the National Construction Code contains the technical provisions for the design, construction, installation, replacement, repair, alteration and maintenance of a range of civil drainage systems (Australian Government, 2021b). The PCA works in conjunction with the porvisions of the Australian Standard AS/NZS 3500 (Australian Government, 2021a). Plumbing and drainage work must satisfy or exceed the provisions stipulated in these codes of practice.

Functional Expectations in Civil Drainage

As can be expected, the laws and standards are treasure troves of information when judging what is expected of a drainage system. Experienced designers and contractors, know these legal provisions like the back of their hand. They also work hard at making sure that everything is ticked off as per the stipulations. So, what are the important things they look at when considering civil drainage? Here is a short list:

Hydrology and Hydraulics

Two things inform the basic design principles in drainage. One is the science behind hydrology – the study of water on and below the earth’s surface. Second is the applied science of hydraulics – the study of mechanical properties of liquids. Together, these sciences drive customisation of drainage design solutions in civic spaces.

Slip Resistance

Refers to the set of relative forces that resists the tendency of the shoe/foot to slide along a walkway surface. Slip resistance depends upon surface materials, the footwear bottom, foreign materials between walking surface and footwear surface. Best practice and legislation together guide how to choose surface materials/finishes for the drainage systems.

Load Bearing Capacity

Refers to the maximum load that can be applied before failure or uncontrolled deformations occurs. This factor plays a role in determining the material properties of the chosen drainage system

Ask for Help – Call a Drainage Specialist

If it starting to sound a bit too hard, you are right. If you are thinking this is a job for a specialist, you are right again. If you are thinking of giving us a call, go ahead. We can assure you, that when you call us, we will suggest a civil drainage system for you that:

  • Complies with all the legal standards
  • Heeds the overarching sciences
  • Is custom-designed to be slip resistant
  • Is uniquely, safe for heels because it relies on an Australian made specialty product PAIGE STAINLESS HEELGUARD ®

We help at all stages of design, construction and installation. So don’t hesitate anymore. Call us now, and we will make sure you are good to go.


Australian Government. (2021a). AS / NZS 3500 Plumbing and Drainage – Australian Government.
Australian Government. (2021b). The Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA) – Australian Government.
Merriam-Webster. (2021). Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

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