Domestic Wastewater Management (Septic Tanks)
- Large Text
- Increase Font Size
- Decrease Font Size
- High Contrast
- Regular Contrast
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 domestic wastewater treatment systems, commonly known as septic systems. These treat wastewater discharges through natural bacteria living in the tank, and discharge wastewater into designated leaching areas.
Poorly treated wastewater can lead to adverse health and environmental affects 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 neighboring properties.
- Septic tank installations and alterations.
A Council issued permit is required prior to the installation of new septic tank systems and alterations of existing septic tank systems. 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 Septic Tank Permit for EPA approved wastewater systems.
Council’s Environmental Health Officer will undertake an initial site assessment of the property prior to the issue of a Septic Tank Permit. In some cases you may be required to provide additional information regarding the site and/or the proposed system for installation. In some cases, namely for development on small lots, 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, a Land Capability Assessment may be required as part of the planning process. This must be undertaken by a qualified consultant in accordance with the EPA publication 746.1, Land Capability Assessment of Onsite Domestic Wastewater Management.
The following is an outline of the septic tank application and installation process:
Once a planning permit has been granted and prior to works commencing on building, a ‘Permit to install or alter a septic tank’ must be obtained from the Health Unit before installation of, or alterations to, a septic system can commence. It is the responsibility of property owners to ensure their plumber applies for this permit. An application form can be downloaded from the link below or contact the Health Unit for a copy. It is illegal to install a wastewater management system without Council approval.
An initial inspection and assessment of the property will be conducted by an Environmental Health Officer (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(see link below) and the 'Permit To Install'.
If the EHO is satisfied that the system has been installed correctly, a ‘Permit to use the septic tank system’ will be issued. This permit will highlight any conditions of use and maintenance requirements which 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 a ‘Permit to use’ for the septic tank system has been granted.
Domestic Wastewater Management Plan
Council's Domestic Wastewater Management Plan is a document that aims at reducing the potential health and environmental impacts of on-site wastewater disposal. The plan identifies areas of risk and potential problems in relation to wastewater management. The associated action plan details strategies towards reducing risks of on-site wastewater management for existing properties and potential new development.