Domestic Wastewater Management (Septic Tanks)
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In areas where reticulated sewer is not available, all household wastewater must be treated and contained within the boundaries of the property. This is done through the use of on-site domestic wastewater systems including septic tanks and secondary treatment systems.
Poorly treated wastewater can lead to adverse health and environmental effects such as:
- Spread of diseases.
- Attraction of vermin and insects.
- Promotion of weed growth.
- High nutrient loads affecting native plants.
- Potential contamination of nearby waterways.
- Problems with neighbouring properties.
- Septic tank installations and alterations.
Prior to the installation or alteration of a wastewater system, Council must issue a Permit to Install or Alter a Wastewater System. Your plumber may provide you with general information regarding the wastewater treatment system suitable for your property however if you require specific details regarding on-site wastewater treatment options and installation requirements refer to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) website. Council will only issue a Permit to Install for EPA approved wastewater systems.
Council’s Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will undertake an initial site assessment of the property prior to the issue of a Permit to Install. In some cases you may be required to provide additional information regarding the site and/or the proposed system for installation. Small lot sizes, steep slopes, flood prone areas or areas known to have poor draining soils, nearby surface water, shallow depth to bedrock or a high water table, may require a Land Capability Assessment as part of the planning process.
The default land application system for sustainably recycling secondary treated sewage or grey-water effluent to land is pressure-compensating sub-surface irrigation. For further information see Council’s Guidelines for the Design and Construction of Sub-Surface Irrigation.
The following is an outline of the on-site wastewater application and installation process:
Once a planning permit has been granted and prior to works commencing on building, a Permit to Install must be obtained from the Health Unit. This must be obtained prior to any installation or alteration to a wastewater system. It is illegal to install a wastewater system without Council approval.
An initial inspection and assessment of the property will be conducted by the EHO to assess the suitability of the proposed installation. This is a time whereby owners and plumbers can liaise with an EHO prior to installation and discuss any queries, options or issues that may arise. If the EHO is then satisfied that the proposed system and area are adequate, a ‘Permit to Install’ will be issued.
The installation of the septic system must be carried out by a registered plumber. When installation is nearing completion but prior to backfilling, a second inspection by an EHO will need to be arranged to ensure the system has been installed in accordance with the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Septic Tanks Code of Practice and the relevant conditions on the Permit to Install.
If the EHO is satisfied that the system has been installed correctly, an Approval to Use will be issued. This approval will highlight any conditions of use and maintenance requirements that must be followed to ensure correct functioning of the system. A Certificate of Occupancy will not be issued for the property (by the relevant Building Surveyor) unless an Approval to Use for the wastewater system has been granted.
Maintenance is required for your septic tank or a secondary treatment system to continue to operate in a safe and environmentally friendly manner. For information on helpful hints to maintain your system and warning signs of a failing system, please read:
It is your responsibility to manage the wastewater from your septic system and/or treatment plant.