Properties not connected to a main sewerage line must have an onsite waste disposal system. Council issues most permits for onsite waste disposal systems. Council is responsible for approving septic systems for premises generating less than 5000 litres per day, while the Environment Protection Authority (EPA) is responsible for wastewater volumes above 5000 litres per day.

Council has a commitment to enforcing relevant septic tank legislation, and along with property owners, a responsibility to minimise the impact of septic tank systems on public and environmental health.

Applying for a septic tank permit

  • First a licensed plumber must visit your property to help design a suitable septic tank system. Different systems are available for different situations and the plumber will assess your property in accordance with the septic tank code of practice.

  • You then need to fill out an application to install a septic tank form, below, or get your plumber to do this. If there’s any concerns with your application, the Council’s health protection team will contact you to discuss. 
  • If able to proceed and your septic system is installed, the plumber must arrange for Council to inspect the system. An health protection officer must sight the septic tank, uncovered absorption lines, irrigation lines and perform a flush test.

  • Council will issue a certificate to use the septic system if satisfied.

Altering or decommissioning a septic system

If you need to make alterations to a septic tank system, or decommission your septic tank, you must fill out the Septic Tank Application Form to Install, Alter or Decommission the system.

What are property owners’ responsibilities?

  • Regularly inspecting all parts of the septic system to ensure it’s working effectively or have the system checked by a professional;
  • Repairing the system if defective due to age or damage;
  • Desludging or pumping out the septic tank as required;
  • Complying with permit conditions for the installation and use of the septic system on the property;
  • Checking the lease agreement if renting a septic system, to identify who’s responsible for its management.

What are Council’s responsibilities?

  • Reducing risk to public health and the environment from domestic wastewater by implementing a Domestic Wastewater Management Plan;
  • Providing community education and information to assist property owners with managing their systems;
  • Regulating and monitoring the installation and operation of systems, including undertaking site inspections and issuing permits;
  • Reporting wastewater management issues to the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

For further tips on septic tank use and environment protection, including advise for holiday makers, download this brochure Septic_tank_tips_for_property_owners_and_holiday_makers.pdf(PDF, 197KB) .   

Health risks and precautions for septic tanks

Septic waste can be hazardous because of the pathogens and toxins it contains. Contact with waste matter can spread diseases such as gastroenteritis, giardia, hepatitis and cryptosporidiosis, as well as attract vermin and insects.

You should consider the following safety measures before inspecting your septic tank:

  • wear rubber gloves wash hands immediately after;
  • beware of flammable and toxic gases and ensure the site is well ventilated;
  • approach the opening only after the lid has been left open for some time;
  • never smoke or use a naked flame near an open septic tank;
  • ask a second person to watch you and to call for assistance if necessary;
  • let your doctor know if you suffer any injuries during the inspection.

If you are unsure or uncomfortable about inspecting your tank, seek assistance from a licensed plumber or septic tanks servicing company.

Testing your septic water

If you have a sand filter or mechanical treatment plant then your effluent, commonly known as treated septic water, must be tested each year to ensure there’s no harm to the environment and public when released. Property owners must collect and send a sample to a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) laboratory to determine amounts of Biological Oxygen Demand (BOD) and Suspended Solids (SS). A licensed plumber can collect the sample and on your behalf.

The Council’s health protection unit requires a copy of a NATA laboratory results with the BOD and SS amounts amounts clearly stated. Failure to provide this information can lead to a fine. Visit the NATA website to find an accredited laboratory or for more information or call 1800 621 6

For further information on septic systems you can download the following brochure, or feel free to call and speak to the Council’s Health Protection Team on (03) 5232 9400 to find out more.

Your_septic_system_brochure.pdf(PDF, 1MB)