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Structure and Function of the South East Drainage Network

The South East Drainage Network has several purposes, depending upon the geographical location, and hydrological circumstances of the particular part of the network and the drain design is based upon the balance of three broad water resource objectives) as listed in the Upper South East Drainage Network Management Strategy (DFW 2011):

1. To remove floodwaters caused by significant annual rainfall events and mitigate the impact of broad-scale and prolonged inundation of production land and groundwater recharge - requiring surface water drainage;

2. To drain saline groundwater from the upper soil profile in the ‘at risk’ parts of the landscape and thereby mitigate the effect of salinity in the root zone of pasture and native plant species – requiring deeper drainage

3. To provide for appropriate environmental flows to key wetland systems of regional, national and international significance - requiring flood-ways and regulators for manipulation of fresh surface water resources. The challenge is to develop and operate an extensive network of these relatively simply formed earthwork structures to achieve all three of these objectives in a very large and extremely flat landscape where large volumes of water can accumulate (during wet climatic periods) and through which water naturally moves quite slowly.

What is a drain?

There are three major types of drains in the South East Region – surface water drains, flood mitigation and groundwater drains.

Click here for more information regarding the drains.


There are a number of elements and considerations involved in managing the South East Drainage Network. The four main areas are:

  • Built Assets
  • Plant and Equipment
  • Drain Maintenance
  • Flow Management

Click here  for more information regarding the assets.

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