Managing your septic system

If you occupy a house that is not connected to the main sewer, then chances are your yard contains an onsite wastewater or septic system. If this is the case then you have a special responsibility to ensure that it is working properly.

The proper treatment and reuse of household wastewater is critical to minimising its impact on public and environmental health.

What you put down your drains and toilets has a lot to do with how well your septic system performs. Maintenance of your septic system needs to be done properly and on time.

Poorly maintained septic systems are a serious source of water pollution and may present health risks, cause odours and attract vermin and insects.

By looking after your septic system, you can do your part in helping protect the environment and the health of you and your family.

Management of the wastewater from your septic system is your responsibility

To ensure your septic system works effectively for many years you need to ensure that you carry out regular maintenance and use your septic system correctly.

A conventional septic tank system requires the septic tank to be pumped out or desludged every three years.

A mechanical treatment plant must be serviced every three months to ensure that the effluent produced complies with relevant standards.

Managing water usage is also another factor in reducing the likelihood of problems with your septic system.

Your septic system is unable to cope with large volumes of water, so it is recommended that you spread water usage out over a day or even a week instead of running the washing machine at the same time as the dishwasher and showering the kids.

Proper management and regular maintenance of your septic system will prolong the life of the system and save you from costly system replacements.

Dos and don'ts of septic systems

Do ...
  • grow suitable plants over the drainage field
  • have the septic tank desludged every three years
  • keep records of inspections and maintenance carried out
  • practice water conservation
  • repair leaking taps and toilets immediately

Don't ...

  • use bleaches and cleaning products excessively
  • allow oil or grease to enter the system
  • allow vehicles to drive over any part of the system
  • allow stormwater to discharge into the septic tank or over the disposal field
  • cover the tank or drainage field with paving, concrete, building structures etc.
  •  place non-biodegradable objects into the system

Trees and plants suitable for planting near effluent absorption trenches

Plants suitable for planting near absorption trenches:
  • Botanical Name (Common Name)
  •  Acacia Cyclops (Western Coastal Wattle)
  •  Acacia howitttii (Sticky Wattle)
  •  Acacia Longifolia (Swallow Wattle)
  •  Acacia Retinoides (Wirilda)
  •  Callistemon citrinus (Crimson Bottlebrush)
  •  Callistemon viminalis (Weeping Bottlebrush)
  •  Callistemon lilacinus (Lilac Bottlebrush)
  •  Eucalyptus preissiana (Bell-fruit Mallee)
  •  Melaleuca ericfolia (Swamp Paperbark)
  •  Melaleuca halmaturorum (Salt Paperbark)
  •  Tamarix juniperina (Flowering Tamarisk)

Plants that should not be planted near absorption trenches (because of pipe blockage):

  • Botanical Name (Common Name)
  •  Eucalyptus camaldulensis (River Red Gum)
  •  Eucalyptus citriodora (Lemon Scented Gum)
  •  Fraxinus raywoodi (Claret Ash)
  •  Eucalyptus cladocalyx (Sugar Gum)
  •  Populus nigra (Poplar)
  •  Salix babylonica (Weeping Willow)

 Septic brochure and fridge card (298kb)