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Septic Systems

It is important for the health of the community and the environment that waste water is disposed of by the approved standards set out by the Environment Protection Authority.

If a property does not have reticulated sewerage connection, this means the installation and maintenance of an approved onsite wastewater management system (OWMS) is required.

Septic Tank Permit Application Form July 2022 to June 2023

Why do I need a permit?

The Environment Protection Act 1970 requires that all systems for the onsite treatment and disposal of waste water up to 5,000 litres per day must be approved by the local government prior to installation and/or alteration. To put this into perspective, a four bedroom house typically produces around 900 litres per day.

You need to work with us if you are planning onsite wastewater treatment for:

  • The subdivision of land in an unsewered area
  • Building a new house in an unsewered area
  • Altering a building with an existing onsite wastewater system, or
  • Altering an existing onsite wastewater system.
Building a House

Before issuing a Building Permit your building surveyor will require an approved Permit to Install a septic tank system from the Local Council. Following this, a Certificate of Occupancy cannot be granted until a Permit to Use the septic tank system has been granted by Council’s Public Health Department.

If you are building or altering a dwelling, we advise that you check with a registered building surveyor and Council’s Statutory Planning Department on 03 5671 2211 to determine what permits are required to complete the work.

If a planning permit is required for the works, we recommend that you wait until the permit has been issued before seeking a permit to install. This will save you additional costs of altering the approved wastewater system to match the conditions of the planning permit.

Subdividing Land

Part of the planning permit process for subdividing land includes demonstrating that wastewater can be treated and retained within the property. The proposal and supporting documentation that demonstrates wastewater can be retained on the developed land is submitted to Council for approval.

Altering a Building

Your original wastewater system was designed to cope with a certain load. Adding bedrooms or plumbing fixtures to your house may increase the load on the existing system, any of these changes require a permit from Public Health. During this process we will work with your plumber to understand if your system can cope with the proposed alterations or identify what upgrades you need to ensure wastewater continues to be treated and retained on your property.

Commercial or Industrial Wastewater systems

Systems that produce greater than 5,000 litres per day need to be approved by the Victorian Environment Protection Authority.

Care and use of your Onsite Wastewater Management System

This information advises you on how to care for and maintain the OWMS so that you obtain the maximum life out of it. Inappropriate use and failing to maintain the system can result in costly repairs.

  • Be familiar with the location of your system. A plan of the final installation was issued with the Approval to Use. Additional copies can be obtained by contacting Council.
  • Undertake periodic inspections of the OWMS and effluent disposal areas and ensure necessary maintenance is carried out to ensure satisfactory performance of the OWMS.
  • Ensure the effluent disposal areas are not obstructed, not driven on and stock is kept away.
  • Limit the use of household chemicals that can kill the bacteria that make your septic system work. Dilute chemicals where possible.
  • Ensure the septic tank is serviced on a regular basis by a suitable contractor.
  • Eliminate food solids and other foreign matter such as sanitary napkins from entering the system.
  • Ensure all modifications to the system are done with the consent of Council and by a qualified plumber or drainer.

Buildings, driveways, concrete slabs, tennis courts, swimming pools, garden beds, vegetable gardens, large trees, etc. must not be placed in or on effluent disposal areas or over tank. Generally, bushes, shrubs and trees should not be permitted to grow directly over effluent disposal areas or sand filters in case the systems need to be dug up or for maintenance.

Ensure plants and grasses used near distribution fields are suited to the area and will not cause root obstructions or too much shade that can affect effluent evaporation.

The EPA provides further information on How to manage your own sewerage system.

Responding to Power Outages

Wastewater from your home contains sewage from your toilet and grey water from your bathroom, kitchen and laundry. Wastewater contains human disease-causing microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses and parasites. Diseases can be transmitted to humans from wastewater if appropriate measures are not taken. The safe disposal of wastewater is therefore essential to protect your health and the health of others.  Ensure children and pets are kept away from wastewater.

  • Electrical power outages and floods can impact your Onsite Wastewater Management System (OWMS).
  • During power outages and floods, wastewater treatment can be limited and pose health concerns and hazards if not managed appropriately.

When without power

  • Limit water usage to essentials such as toilet flushing and hand washing. Laundry, bathing, showers, and dishwashing should be minimized or eliminated during the power outage.
  • Don’t let the water run while brushing teeth, shaving or rinsing dishes.
  • Don’t flush the toilet each time it’s used for liquid waste (where possible).
  • The septic tank can only hold about one-day’s supply of waste before it reaches capacity. Once capacity has been reached, stop all water use. Wastewater will begin to back up into the pipes and eventually will end up in the home if water is continually used.

Extended power outage

  • Stop all water use if electrical outage is extended for more than one day or the plumbing begins to drain slowly.
  • Slow-draining plumbing may indicate that the reserve capacity in the tank is exceeded and the system is full.
  • Consider options for alternative power supply if available – ie. Generator. Visit Energysafe Victoria for information using a generator safely.
  • Odours – Tanks may start producing an odour.  Contact an accredited Liquid Waste Contractor to arrange a pump out of your tank.

Once power is restored

  • Continue to conserve water for 24-48 hours to allow your system to catch-up and return to normal.
  • Allow the system to continue to operate normally until the water level recedes in the system.  A time dosed system may take a 24-hour period to have all of the stored water distributed and the high-water alarm deactivated.
  • For directions on restarting the OWMS, refer to your operations manual.
  • If you are unsure about the operation of your system, or you suspect a system failure contact your service provider, or plumber for assistance.