Onsite Sewage Management


Onsite Sewage Management

If your home is not connected to the Sydney Water sewage system you will have some type of on-site sewage management system on the property.

These systems store, treat and dispose of household waste water. They must be approved and inspected by Council.

  • Septic tank
  • Aerated wastewater treatment system
  • Holding tank with pump out
  • Wet composting toilet
  • Re-circulating sand filter system
  • Grey water treatment system
  • Cesspit
  • Pan
  • Waterless composting system
  • Septic closet
  • Any other activity for disposing of sewage

Problems with your system

If you have any problems with your onsite sewage management system, read our troubleshooting guide first. It might help you identify the issue.

Is the grease trap full or blocked?

Yes - Clean and re-check for blockage later

No - Problems may be with your septic tank - contact your plumber

Is the absorption trench wet or soggy?

Yes - Check for increase in water usage – reduce

No - Problem may be with your septic tank or grease trap

Is there any surface water around the absorption trench?

Yes - Check for increase in water usage - reduce

No - Problem with septic tank or grease trap

Has there been recent heavy rain?

Yes - Divert stormwater away from the absorption area by building an earth bank

No - Contact your plumber - your trenches may need to be replaced. De-sludging the septic tank provides only a temporary solution

Is there water flowing from the absorption trench?

Yes - Contact your plumber - your trenches may need to be replaced. De-sludging your tank provides only a temporary solution

No - If the problem is not listed here contact your plumber

Contact us urgently on 9942 2111 if you have a problem with any of the following:

  • Pollution
  • Water contamination
  • Spray drift
  • Odour
  • A system on a neighbouring property

Installing a new onsite waste water system

If you’re installing a new onsite waste water system or modifying your existing one you must obtain an Approval to Install and an Approval to Operate, as required by section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993. Council will issue an Approval based on a risk assessment of the system. You must comply with the conditions shown on the approval.

The role of Council

Warringah Council monitors the operation of all  onsite sewage management systems in Warringah.

Council can issue orders requiring a person:

  • to comply with an approval
  • to take action to maintain premises in a healthy condition
  • to store, treat or dispose of waste
  • not to use or permit a human waste storage facility to be used, and/or
  • to connect premises to a public sewer when the sewer is within 75m

Orders can be given to the owner or occupier of the premises or to the person responsible for the container in which the waste is stored.

Responsibilities of householders

If you have an onsite sewage management system you must take responsibility for operating it. That might mean making changes such as conserving water, minimizing the use of chemical cleaners and avoiding large or sudden loads of waste water.

You must make sure that you have service and maintenance contracts with qualified service providers. If the system is defective and cannot be repaired, contact us to discuss replacing the system.

Selling or leasing the property

If you sell or lease the property the new householder must receive an operating manual. Additional copies must be available on request.

The manual should cover the following:

  • System operation and capabilities
  • Operating requirements - system capacity, the importance of spreading the hydraulic load and actions to be avoided
  • Troubleshooting and signs of system failure, such as odours and surface ponding of wastewater
  • Maintenance and servicing requirements
  • Management of health risks
  • Occupational health and safety, first aid and chemical handling
  • Warranty and service life
  • Emergency telephone numbers

Responsibilities of service providers

Service providers must be properly trained. It is their responsibility to educate householders on the use and maintenance of onsite sewage management systems.

Service agents must produce a report in triplicate of each service call. This report should certify compliance with operating requirements and specify repairs undertaken and test results. The service agent should give the householder the original of this report, a copy to Council and keep a copy for their own records.

If a service provider discovers a system failure caused by improper use they must advise the owner. If the problem continues the matter should be reported to Council. If effluent causes pollution, the service provider is required to notify Council.

Service agents can carry out temporary repairs and rectify any immediate risk to public health. Any residual materials removed from a site must be handled in accordance with environmental and public health standards.