Septic systems and wastewater services

An onsite wastewater management system is commonly referred to as a septic or a septic tank system.  A septic tank system treats all of the wastewater generated from a dwelling and disposes of, or re-uses, the treated wastewater onsite.
 
There are a number of different types of septic tank systems available. From the traditional septic tank and effluent disposal field, to the Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems (AWTS), reed beds, composting toilets and worm farms.
 
It is the owner's responsibility to apply for a  permit to install the system before installation works commence on any new dwelling. Likewise, altering an existing system due to renovations also requires a permit.

Apply

A property with a septic tank or wastewater treatment system requires a Permit to Install and a Certificate to Use.This permit must be issued by Council before the system is used or a Certificate of Occupancy is issued by a building surveyor. The Permit to Install provides conditions about the type and use of system approved for the dwelling.  A site plan will also require approval and should show the septic tank location and the effluent disposal area.

A list of approved wastewater treatment systems and the appropriate conditions can be found on the EPA website.

When designing your system and drawing up plans, it is important that your system meets the minimum setback distances, as required by the EPA. The required setback distance can be found in the Code of Practice - Onsite Wastewater Management
 
Council’s environmental health officers will inspect the property to ensure the wastewater system planned meets the guidelines, before issuing a Permit to Install.

Report

Onsite wastewater systems require maintenance and care. They have limited capacity and lifespan.

Too many users on the system, lack of maintenance, damage to the system by cultivation, traffic or stock, or general wear and tear may cause the system to fail and wastewater to leak out to the surface of the ground or into a waterway.

If this happens to your system, it will be time for an upgrade. You will need a permit to alter the system (major) and you may need to relocate the system to your reserve area, set aside at the time of the first installation for future expansion or upgrades to the system.

If your neighbour's wastewater is leaking, you may be noticing a very unpleasant odour or boggy areas seeping onto your land or into the street. You may like to notify your neighbour or you may wish to report the problem to council

To let us know about a leaking wastewater problem, please use the below form.

Report an environmental nuisance and/or pollution incident allegation >>

 


Alterations

Are you planning an extension, adding an ensuite or extra bedrooms to your house?

If you have an onsite wastewater treatment system or septic tank and you plan to add to the amount of wastewater created, you will require permission to alter your wastewater system (minor alteration).

This permit may be necessary if you add extra bedrooms to a dwelling or alter the drains of the house by adding an ensuite bathroom or putting in a spa bath.
 
If your effluent disposal area requires enlarging or replacement due to failure (root blockage, ground disturbance or just old age) you will require permission to alter your wastewater system (major alteration).

Application for a permit to install or alter a wastewater system >>

Maintenance

All wastewater systems require maintenance to keep them working effectively.

Both septic tanks and aerated treatment systems require emptying or desludging when the sludge fills to half way up the tank. Failure to remove this sludge will mean that it will overflow into your effluent trenches or irrigation lines and block them, requiring costly replacement of your system.

Aerated treatment systems have many moving parts and require servicing every three months to make sure they are still treating the wastewater to a high standard. If the treatment unit fails, the wastewater effluent will become thicker and may block the irrigation lines, once again requiring a costly replacement of the irrigation and possibly the treatment unit as well.

Make sure you know where your effluent goes to on your property. You won't want to dig them up, construct a building or a paved area over them, drive heavy vehicles over them, plant your vegetable garden or that tree with a tangly root system over them. Keep them as a clear grassed area to get the maximum lifespan out of your trenches or irrigation area.

Inspect

Most of a wastewater system is underground and if it is working well, the only sign that it is there should be green grass where the wastewater is being dispersed.

If you are buying a property, have just moved into a property or are planning alterations to your house or landscaping, you may wish to know exactly where your wastewater system is located. Putting in a new circular driveway loses its shine if wastewater leaks to the surface after it is completed because you placed it over the existing system.

Council may be able to assist you by providing plans of the installed system or conducting an inspection to try to determine the location of the tank and/or the effluent disposal area for you. As some systems were installed prior to the permit system being in place, we cannot guarantee that we will have access to a plan, or an accurate plan, of the system. In some cases, even an inspection may not result in a definite location for you.

To request an inspection of a wastewater system or have a plan search carried out, please complete this form.

Request for inspection and report or plan search >>

1. Overview

  1.  Septic / wastewater systems

If you plan to reside on a property which is not connected to a sewer system, your property will require an onsite wastewater treatment system.

An onsite wastewater management system is commonly referred to as septic or a septic tank system.  A septic tank system treats all of the wastewater generated from the dwelling and disposes of or, re-uses the treated wastewater onsite, within the properties boundaries.

There are a number of different types of septic tank systems available. From the traditional septic tank and effluent disposal field, to the All Wastewater Treatment Systems (AWTS), composting toilet and worm farm.

To choose a system that is right for you and your property you need to ensure that the system is approved by the EPA. A list of approved wastewater treatment systems and the appropriate conditions can be found on the EPA website.

Whichever system you choose, you may be required to conduct a Land Capability Assessment (LCA) to determine the quality of the soil, percolation rate and management of the septic system. LCA’s are required for subdivisions and blocks on steeply sloping land, coastal areas and soils with heavy clay.

2. Applying for a new or altering an existing septic system

It is the owners responsibility to apply for a permit to install or alter(PDF, 277KB) the system before works commence on installing a system to any new dwelling, Likewise, altering an existing system due to renovations also requires a permit.

A property with a  septic tank system requires a “Permit to Install” and a “Approval to Use” issued by Council before the system is used or a Certificate of Occupancy is issued by a Building Surveyor. The “Permit to Install” provides conditions about the type and use of system approved for the dwelling.  A site plan will also require approval and show the septic tank location and the effluent disposal area.

It is important when designing your system and drawing up plans that your system meets the minimum setback distances, as required by the EPA. The required setback distance can be found in the .............

Council’s Environmental Health Officers will inspect the property to ensure the septic tank system planned meets the guidelines and issue a Permit to Install.

Once the septic tank system is ready and the installing plumber’s certificate of compliance received and a copy of the as constructed plan, an environmental Health Officer will conduct a final inspection and an Approval to Use will be issued to the owner. For this approval to be issued, all effluent disposal or irrigation areas must be set up in accordance with the plans approved with your Permit to Install.

3. Do I require a land capability assessment (LCA)? 

 

 

4. What if I have not yet appointed a plumber?

 

 

 

5. Managing onsite septic / wastewater systems

A properly managed wastewater system will assist in prolonging the life of the system and prevent it from premature failure that could result in a public health risk. Responsibility for managing an onsite wastewater system falls with the property owner. Treatment plants must be regularly maintained by a professional service technician as per the manufacturer's instructions, conditions on your septic permit and the maintenance reports forwarded to council. 

Further inquiries regarding septic tank systems can be made by contacting Council's Environmental Health Unit on (03) 5358 8700.

 

 

 

The proper management of domestic wastewater in the Northern Grampians Shire is paramount to protect public health and the environment for years to come. Proper management is particularly important in the current drought crisis and severe water restrictions.

This Municipal Domestic Wastewater Management Plan 2017-2020 outlines the management strategies and actions planned by Northern Grampians Shire Council to address identified issues with wastewater management across our communities.

The Plan links to other Council Plans to ensure a coordinated and united approach to water issues over the next few years.

Northern Grampians Shire Council looks forward to implementing this Plan in partnership with stakeholders including the community to achieve the ultimate goals and objectives.

Municipal Domestic Wastewater Management Plan 2017-2020(PDF, 455KB)

Septic Installations

To ensure that a new septic tank on your property is installed in line with health regulations, it is important that you register your intention with Council. Likewise, if you wish to amend the location of your septic tank system or alter it in any way, you also must register this with Council.

In the case of building or altering your home a Permit to Install a Wastewater System will be required before a building permit will be issued.

 

 

The proper management of domestic wastewater in the Northern Grampians Shire is paramount to protecting public health and the environment for years to come. Proper management is particularly important in the current drought crisis and severe water restrictions.

Our Municipal Domestic Wastewater Management Plan outlines the management strategies and actions planned by Northern Grampians Shire Council to address identified issues with wastewater management across our communities.

The plan links to other council documents to ensure a coordinated and united approach to water issues over the next few years.

Council looks forward to implementing this plan in partnership with stakeholders, including the community, to achieve the ultimate goals and objectives.

Municipal-Domestic-Wastewater-Management-Plan-2017-2020.pdf(PDF, 455KB)