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On-site wastewater management considerations for Ipswich

The City of Ipswich council area has a significant percentage of properties using on-site sewage facilities. In order to maintain a healthy environment around the area managing your wastewater treatment system effectively is essential. Faulty or badly maintained septic and domestic sewage treatment plants can potentially spread disease, pollute groundwater, and attract pests.

As the owner of a property using an on-site sewage facility, it is your responsibility to make sure the system is kept up to a high standard and that it functions efficiently.

The Ipswich council guidelines state that there are three options for the disposal of treated sewage or effluent:

  • Within your property on a land application area (area designated for the disposal of effluent)
  • Off the property by a common effluent drainage system
  • Off the property utilising collection from a holding tank by a liquid waste carrier

Categories of onsite sewerage systems

  • Primary treatment or septic tanks - including all-waste septic systems, black water only, greywater only. This quality of effluent must be disposed of using absorption trenches only.
  • Secondary treatment or better - including activated sludge systems, biological trickling filter systems, extended aeration systems, and aerated/aerobic sand filter systems. This quality of effluent can be disposed of using absorption trenches, or surface or subsurface irrigation.
  • Composting systems - including dry vault systems, wet system
  • Holding tank - including off-premises collection from a holding tank or greywater treatment/diversion facility
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Ipswich Council septic system management requirements

Keeping your septic tank system in top condition is relatively simple. Ipswich council recommend septic system owners:

  • Have the system professionally inspected every 12 months to check for excess sludge or faults
  • Pump out every 3 to 5 years
  • Maintain grass and plants in the disposal area ensuring they don’t get overgrown and shade the area reducing evaporation or absorption
  • Monitor and regularly clean out a kitchen grease trap.

Recommended septic tank usage guidelines

  • Utilise biodegradable cleaning and hygiene products
  • Avoid harsh chemicals like ammonia and bleach which can disrupt the balance of bacteria in the tank
  • Don’t dispose of food scraps, coffee grinds, wet wipes or sanitary items down the drain
  • Keep oil, fat, and grease out of the system.
  • Don’t overload the septic system with excess water - ie spread out loads of washing, baths and long showers. Too much water at once can mean the effluent doesn’t have time to break down in the tank, reducing the quality at discharge.
  • Keep off the disposal area - don’t drive over it, allow children to play on it, or keep animals in the area.

Ipswich council household sewerage treatment plants - aerated systems

Council approval is required for the initial installation and any alterations carried out to ensure compliance with local legislation and health codes. The property owner must ensure all approval conditions are adhered to during installation as well as across the life of the system.

Relevant council fees for the assessment and inspection as well as a registration fee are applicable.

  • Required professional servicing must be carried out periodically (quarterly or annually) by a licenced service agent. Service reports must be lodged with the council as well as a copy kept by the owner.
  • Soil profile and ground coverings such as grass must be maintained to assist absorption and treatment of the effluent.
  • Land application area must continue to receive full sun to boost absorption - shading trees in the area need to be trimmed regularly
  • Surface irrigation disposal sprinklers must emit a heavy droplet
  • Sprinklers must be moved regularly to avoid pooling and runoff
  • Care must be taken to avoid disrupting the balance of good bacteria within the treatment plant by using biodegradable products
  • Don’t put foreign substances and products down the drain or toilet such as oil, fat, grease, food scraps, ‘flushable’ wet wipes, etc.

Signs something is wrong with your sewage treatment plant

Ongoing monitoring of your sewage treatment plant will ensure any issues are identified quickly, removing the risk of total system failure. Keep an eye out for these signs which could signify your system is not working efficiently:

  • A bad smell around the system or land application area - a well-functioning on-site sewage facility should have little to no odour.
  • Water pooling in or near the disposal area
  • Drains and toilets are slow to drain or back up
  • Too much growth in the disposal area or sparse vegetation growth in the disposal area.
  • If any system alarms are triggered - consult your system manual and service agent immediately

More information about the different styles of wastewater treatment Express Wastewater Solutions offer in Ipswich: