Un-sewered development and septic tanks
The whole of Towong Shire falls within an open potable water supply catchment. This means that there are special requirements for un-sewered development.
Land capability assessments
In most cases, development that relies on on-site wastewater disposal will require a land capability assessment (LCA). An LCA is a soil and site assessment that investigates the site's capacity to manage wastewater.
An LCA needs to be undertaken by an appropriately qualified person who can assess:
- soil conditions and their suitability for wastewater management
- wastewater volumes involved
- site constraints such as setbacks to waterways
- land space availability and suitability.
The Environment Protection Authority have published a document (No. 746.1) titled 'Land Capability Assessment for Onsite Domestic Wastewater Management', which includes a summary example of the details of such an assessment, including the parameters that should be considered and whether the results are rated as 'very good' through to 'very bad' in respect to capability.
As the site's capability decreases, a higher standard of treatment, increased setback distances and/or a greater level of owner involvement may be necessary. Some allotments may be assessed as not suitable for development or only suitable for a small scale of development that produces less wastewater.
In Towong Shire, there are townships and many rural areas that are not connected to North East Water's reticulated network of sewerage infrastructure. As a result, there are many domestic wastewater management systems across the area, predominantly septic tank and absorption trench and aerated wastewater treatment systems.
For more information on applying for a septic system please contact our Environmental Health Department on 1300 365 222.
Download the application form
Application for a Permit to Install or Alter a Septic Tank System
Installations and alterations
For any new installations, an application must be made on the prescribed form, together with the required supporting information and associated fees. Systems that can treat more than 5000L per day need an EPA development licence and operating licence (unless an exemption applies).
Existing installations are subject to the same requirements as new system installations where an owner chooses to alter or construct a system, or where an alteration or modification is required due to inspections carried out by Council.
Existing domestic wastewater management systems vary in age, design, installation, user hydraulic loading and operation. Varying levels of knowledge among owners and occupiers of premises in relation to their waste water management systems and the maintenance standards required have an immediate effect on the performance of these systems.
On-site wastewater system performance
Common issues identified with a variety of on-site systems include:
- A consistent and offensive wastewater/effluent odour, indicating a potential problem with the absorption trench or primary septic tank in need of a de-sludge waste removal.
- Cracked lids/open inspection holes, which encourages vermin and is a safety issue.
- Some residents being unaware that their property is unsewered. Generally this is a problem with properties that are newly tenanted or owners who have recently purchased the property.
- Decoration and ornamental objects such as ponds, plant containers, or garden features or backfilled material being placed adjacent or on top of systems, restricting access to wastewater management systems and potential effluent application areas.
- Owners of aerated wastewater treatment systems may be under the assumption that final liquid product after treatment is of drinking water quality, therefore are using it in inappropriate places or for inappropriate uses.
- Effluent distribution lines for aerated wastewater treatment systems must be purple or black in colour. Many owners/operators have attached traditional green garden hoses. This is not an approved piece of equipment for effluent distribution as it has the capacity to be connected to the domestic water supply system and can be mistakenly be used for the purposes of potable water supply. This is dangerous as cross contamination occurs or unfamiliar persons may mistake the effluent being discharged as potable water (tap water).