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Want to know more about on-site sewerage facilities on the Sunshine Coast?

Living on the Sunshine Coast is beautiful - you have the beach, the hills and the mountains, all within an easy drive. But, it is crucial to ensure that your household and its waste do not negatively affect the gorgeous surroundings, which is why it is super important to ensure the appropriate arrangements are in place on your property when it comes to the disposal of waste.

Wastewater sprinkler

After reading that, you are probably wondering what we are talking about... and do not worry! We have put together some information regarding on-site sewerage facilities, which are systems that safely deal with the waste that comes from your home. If you have any questions regarding any of the information provided, give Express Wastewater Solutions a call at 1300 722 517 and we would be happy to discuss your household wastewater needs.

On-site sewerage facilities

What is an on-site sewerage facility?

According to the Sunshine Coast Regional Council, an on-site sewerage facility, or an OSF, is ' any system that stores, treats and disposes of household wastewater on the property ' and they are a type of wastewater treatment system.

Who should have an OSF?

Properties that are not connected to any public sewerage arrangement must have an OSF.

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What are the different types of OSF?

There are quite a few different types of OSFs, including:

Sewerage treatment systems can contain up to three stages:

  1. Primary Treatment: The breakdown of solid materials into liquid waste, which is then dispersed below ground.
  2. Secondary Treatment: The breakdown of organic materials into wastewater that this in a suitable state for surface or subsurface irrigation.
  3. Advanced Secondary Treatment: The reduction of suspended solids into wastewater that is suitable for release into sensitive ecosystems.

What factors should I consider when choosing an OSF?

When looking at choosing an OSF that is best suited to your needs, make sure you consider the following:

  • Budget: What is your budget for the initial outlay costs, as well as any ongoing costs needed?
  • Maintenance: What ongoing maintenance is needed? And what costs are associated with maintenance?
  • Land Application Area: Does your budget need to include extra costs for any land application area arrangements?
  • Water Load: What is the spread of water load over the day?
  • Soil Type: What soil does your property have?
  • Property: What size is your property, and does it slope anywhere?
  • Environment: What environment is surrounding your property? Do you have any waterways close by?
  • Water Amount: How much water is available?
  • Water Quantity: What is the quantity of water to be treated?

What approvals do I need?

To apply for a permit to either install an on-site sewerage facility or alter an existing one, you will be required to complete Form 1: Permit Work Application for Plumbing, Drainage and On-Site Sewerage Work which is located on the Sunshine Coast Council website. All OSFs need Council approval before they are installed on a property and, once approved, a property owner will receive a copy of the approved plan. Once a copy of an approved plan has been handed over, a licensed drainage contractor can install an on-site sewerage facility. It is worth noting that it is the responsibility of the contractor to ensure the OSF is installed correctly, as well as ensure the completion of inspections and certifications.

What about the land application area?

The land application area, or LAA, is the area that treated wastewater is released into within your property boundaries. LAAs are super important to avoid causing harm to you, your household, your neighbours and their properties, as well as any environment that surrounds you (such as waterways). There are three types of LAAs:

  1. Trench-based systems: Transpiration to large flat areas with absorbent soils.
  2. Surface irrigation systems: Disperses treated wastewater using sprinklers, however, this may not be suited to sloping land.
  3. Sub-surface systems: Disperses treated wastewater using pipes beneath a layer of suspended soil.

Do on-site sewerage facilities require maintenance?

Yes! OSFs require regular maintenance to ensure that they continue to work in an efficient and effective manner. If your OSF is not maintained correctly, it can start to malfunction, cause safety issues and impact both public health and the environment, as well as drastically affecting resale value. Depending on the system, servicing frequency can vary from quarterly to yearly so speak to a wastewater professional in relation to your particular system and its needs. Servicing can include:

  • Taking measurements in relation to both sludge and scum levels.
  • Ensure adequate chlorine supplies are accessible.
  • Ensure all pumps and blowers in the system are operational.
  • Clean the filters.
  • Appropriately test all chemical levels.
  • Check for evidence of any bacteria die-off apparent.
  • Check for ponding of wastewater in the LAA.
  • Comprehensively check all mechanical components of the system.
  • Ensure the plant is in operational condition.

What responsibilities does an owner have when it comes to OSF maintenance?

If you have an OSF on your property, you must:

  • Ensure the system works properly at all times.
  • Ensure the system is properly maintained, which may require a service agent agreement.
  • Take all reasonable steps to maintain all plumbing and drainage on the property in good condition.
  • Ensure the system does not pose a health threat to you, your family or the public.
  • Ensure the system does not become a nuisance to the surrounding area.

Common on-site sewerage facility issues

There are a few issues that pop up time and time again when it comes to OSF, with failures usually being caused by one or a combination of:

  • Lack of maintenance.
  • Overflowing LAA.
  • Odours that are being emitted from the OSF.
  • Blockages, such as tree roots.
  • Bacteria that are essential to the process are killed by many household chemicals.
  • The OSF has been designed incorrectly.
  • The incorrect OSF has been chosen for a property.
  • Damage to the structural components of a system.
  • Leaching into groundwater.
  • Failure of mechanical components of a system, such as blowers and pumps.
  • Excessive water use.
  • Failure to meet the relevant effluent quality standards.

If you have a feeling that there are issues with your OSF, or it isn't working as it should, it is important to arrange for a wastewater professional to attend your property as soon as possible to assess the situation. Failure to arrange this can result in serious health issues for you, those around you and your local waterways.

OSF eServices

There is a great service on the Sunshine Coast called OSF eServices which allows the real-time submission of service reports relating to your on-site sewerage facility. This is run by the Council and your service agent will be aware of all requirements, so have a chat with them for more information.

A few handy OSF tips

Here are a few helpful hints to help when it comes to OSFs:

  • Do not try and save electricity costs by turning the system off.
  • Do not use any effluent to irrigate vegetables or fruits.
  • Always replace any faulty or damaged mechanical components as a matter of urgency.
  • Become as familiar as possible with how your OSF operates, as different systems work in different ways.
  • Do not allow roof or surface water to enter the system as it will cause overloading.
  • Try and avoid the use of products which will damage a system, including bleach, paint, thinners, extremely acidic or alkaline products, pesticides, antibacterial agents, grease or oil.
  • Speak to your service provider regarding the best cleaning and washing products to suit your particular system.
  • Do not cover any tanks with earth, concrete, pavers, mulch or other materials.
  • Do not allow any roof or surface water to enter the system as it will cause overloading.
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Your local wastewater treatment experts

If you have any further questions regarding on-site sewerage facilities or any other wastewater treatment options, give Express Wastewater Solutions a call at 1300 722 517 and we would be happy to discuss your household wastewater needs.


Sunshine Coast Regional Council (On-site treatment and greywater): https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Development/Building-and-Plumbing/Onsite-Treatment-and-Greywater

Sunshine Coast Regional Council (Maintaining systems): https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Development/Building-and-Plumbing/Onsite-Treatment-and-Greywater/Maintaining-Systems

Sunshine Coast Regional Council (Common failures of on-site sewerage facilities): https://www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au/Development/Building-and-Plumbing/Onsite-Treatment-and-Greywater/Common-Failures-of-Onsite-Sewerage-Facilities

The information contained on this web page is created as general information and should be used as a guide only. Express Wastewater Solutions will not take any responsibility for any consequences that may arise from reliance on this web page and its information.