Septic tanks or Onsite Wastewater Management Systems

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What is an onsite wastewater management system?

  • An onsite wastewater management system is commonly known as a septic or septic tank system. 
  • A septic tank system treats all wastewater from a dwelling and disposes or re-uses the treated wastewater onsite, within propoerty boundaries. 
  • There are a number of different types of septic tank systems available, from the traditional standard septic tank to an Aerated Wastewater Treatment System (AWTS), composting toilet and worm farm. 
  • You will require a permit to construct, install, or alter a septic tank system.
  • You need to ensure the system you choose is approved by the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA), a list of approved wastewater treatment systems can be found on the EPA website.
  • All septic tank systems must comply with the current Australian New Zealand standards 
  • You should regularly pump out the sludge from your tank (at least every 3 years but preferably every year)
  • The Environmental Protection Act requires that all systems generating less than 5,000 litres per day must be approved by Council prior to installation.


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Application process

Applications must be made to Council for permission to install or alter septic tanks or other domestic wastewater treatment systems. 

Step 1

Contact Council to determine whether a planning permit is required. A septic tank permit cannot usually be approved until the planning permit is issued.

Step 2

Contact either your relevant water authority if applicable (Central Highlands Water, Barwon Water, Western Water, Goulburn Murray Water, or Southern Rural Water) to find out if further conditions apply.

Step 3

Submit the application form and pay any relevant fees. Along with the application form, you must also submit a site plan.

Once an application is submitted to Council, Council has 42 days to process the application and issue a 'Permit to Install'. No works should be commenced prior to the issuing of your permit. Should works commence without a permit, an infringement notice may be issued by Council. 

Step 4

Once the permit is granted it is valid for 2 years and please provide copies of your permit to your plumber and builder.


Land Capability Assessment (LCA) needs to be submitted as part of the application process. An LCA is a written report that assesses the various aspects of a site and determines the capability of the land to sustain a wastewater system.

You can contact a Land Capability Assessor but note that Council does not actively endorse any of the consultants listed.

Council will be assessing LCAs received using both the EPA Code of Practice and the recently released Victorian Land Capability Assessment Framework (VLCA) – 2nd Edition January 2014. 

Council’s Environmental Health Unit recommends you ensure your LCA meets the requirements of these documents and taking this approach to ensure consistency in the quality of LCAs received.


Approval process

  • No installation work should be conducted without the “Permit to Install”. 24 hours before works begin the owner or the plumber should contact Council’s Environmental Health Unit to request a progress inspection
  • Once Council’s Environmental Health Unit receives and approves this document, you will be issued with a “Permit to Use” the septic tank system
  • Note: A Building Surveyor cannot issue an “occupancy certificate” until Council issues your “Permit to Use”


Maintaining your system

  • The property owner is responsible for maintaining the septic tank system
  • All septic tanks including a standard septic tank and an aerated wastewater treatment system (AWTS) must be desludged at least once every 3 years
  • An AWTS must be serviced through a contract with an accredited service technician every 3 months

A list of service providers is available and an example of a service report is provided that shows all the areas that need attention during a service. 


Failure to maintain system

Council follows up all owners or occupiers that are not maintaining their systems within the required timeframe.

Failure to maintain your system is an offence under Section 53N of the Environmental Protection Act 1970 and can result in an infringement of 5 penalty units. 



Septic Fees Amount
Permit to Install $1375.00
Major alternation (including 2 inspections) $647.00
Minor alternation, Cost of works max $2000 (including 1 inspections) $200.00
Extention to current permit only 1 extention allowed $50.00
Grey Water Permit $455.00
Additional inspection request $100.00
Septic information request $141.00
Septic information request no inspection required $50.00
Sample request Cost of sample plus 20% 



Further information

Split systems

Septic tank with Reed Bed

Septic tank with Sand Filter

Package treatment plants

Basic design

Common disposal methods

Historic septic tanks

Plumbers' responsibilities

Service agents responsibilities

Land owners responsibilities

Home owners and renters responsibilities


Domestic Wastewater Management Plan

Council's Domestic Wastewater Management Plan (DWMP) allows for better development of houses in regional areas where waterways may otherwise have excessively restricted growth.

Moorabool Shire Council  Audit report (December 2017) presents the findings resulting from the audit of the DWMP.



Frequently Asked Questions

  • I would like an additional copy of my (or a client's) permit to Install, Alter or Use a septic system; or documents regarding my septic, how do I go about it?

    Any additional septic permit or any documentation Council has about your septic can be provided by Council by lodging a written request via email to or via post/ in person with a Septic/ Sewer information request which carries a fee of $59.00.

  • I don't want to install the type of system I have been allowed, why am I limited in my choices?

    Depending on your block size and its proximity to various water ways a septic system can pose a greater risk to the local environment and drinking water: due to this Council and water authorities may insist on particular types of systems which treat your waste to a higher standard.

  • I want to build an addition to my home; do I need to change my waste-water treatment system?

    If your addition is likely to increase the potential number of bedrooms or is not functioning correctly Council is obligated to ensure that the wastewater treatment system meets potential needs.  You will need to apply for a permit to alter your septic system in this case.

Last Updated:

Wednesday, 1 June, 2016 - 17:04