Onsite Wastewater Systems

Onsite Wastewater Systems

The Rural City of Murray Bridge approves onsite wastewater systems for allotments that do not have access to SA Water sewerage services.

Systems that are most often approved by Council include:

  • Septic tank and subsurface trench or bed
  • Aerobic tanks with irrigation systems
  • Holding tanks
  • Connection into an existing CWMS/STEDS

Septic Tank and Soakage System

This system works by the initial treatment of wastewater in the septic tank and this ‘semi-treated’ wastewater is then directed to underground trenches that rely on the water to be absorbed into the ground. The minimum size septic tank for a 6 person dwelling is 3000 litres and the size of your soakage system is dependent on the soil type on your allotment. A Wastewater Engineer will need to undertake soil testing and prepare a report outlining whether the soil is suitable for a soakage system on your allotment and the area that is required. Some soils such as clay aren't suitable for soakage as the water doesn't drain adequately and you may need to look at alternative options. The septic tank needs to be desludged every 4 years to prevent solids entering the soakage trench which can lead to an early failure of the system.

Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems (including sand filter systems)

Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems, or Aerobic systems, treat the wastewater with chlorine so that it can be used on your garden area. The system needs to be checked quarterly by an approved servicing contractor to refill the chlorine and to ensure the pumps and aerators are working. A copy of these reports must be provided to Council. Please note: Owners are not permitted to undertake their own maintenance.

A significant amount of irrigation area is required for these types of systems which must be landscaped and marked with a ‘reclaimed water – not suitable for drinking’ sign. A Wastewater Engineer will need to undertake soil testing and prepare a report that outlines the size of the irrigation area.

Note: Aerobic water can only be used on dedicated landscaped garden areas and cannot be used on any lawned areas or vegetable gardens.

Installation of Alternative Wastewater Systems

There are a number of alternative wastewater systems that can be installed in accordance with AS/NZS 1547 such as the composting toilet, reed bed systems, ETA trenches, Wisconsin mounds and other hybrid alternatives, which are now approved by Council. These are listed on the application form.

These sorts of systems will still require a wastewater engineer to prepare a report outlining the soil profile of your allotment and the suitability for that wastewater system to operate on your allotment.

For further information on these systems contact Council’s Environmental Health Officers.

Renovating your house?

It is a requirement that an Application for Wastewater Works Approval must be lodged for any alterations to wastewater systems, including additions such as ensuites, upgrades or changing placement of irrigation areas. When lodging your Application for Wastewater Works Approval, please clearly illustrate which components of the system are existing and which are forming part of the new application. This makes for a seamless assessment and approval process and ensures that your application is approved with fewer delays.

Onsite wastewater disposal is regulated through the South Australian Public Health (Wastewater) Regulations 2013, the Onsite Wastewater Systems Code and Australian Standard 1547:2012.

Council Environmental Health Officers assess applications against these various pieces of legislation to ensure the safe disposal of wastewater.

Public Health (Wastewater Regulations)

Onsite Wastewater Systems Code

If you are installing a new system, connecting into your existing system or upgrading your old system an application must be submitted for wastewater works approval. The Rural City of Murray Bridge approves onsite wastewater systems for allotments that do not have access to SA Water Sewer services.

The following information may be required to be submitted for wastewater works:

  • An Application for an On-site Wastewater Works Approval
  • A qualified wastewater engineers report. This report will provide information on the site, soil and design of proposed system. The engineer should also provide a site plan.
  • A plumbing layout showing all underfloor and drainage works must also be submitted. A qualified plumber can draw this up.
  • Onsite wastewater system fee.

Once the necessary paperwork has been received, Council’s Environmental Health Officer (EHO) will assess the application. If approved, correspondence will be sent to the owner and applicant detailing what has been approved.

Please note that if the wastewater application is in association with a development application, neither application will be approved until all of the requirements have been met for both.

For further information, please contact one of Council's Environmental Health Officers.

All wastewater works must be completed by a suitably qualified person (e.g. a qualified plumber). To check for necessary qualifications please click here.

Under the conditions of approval Council must be notified 24 hours prior to plumbing works been undertaken. This can be done via our website (see below). This includes:

  • Underfloor Works,
  • Drainage works,
  • Prior to backfilling trenches,
  • Installation of irrigation works.

Once work has been completed it is a legal requirement that a Certificate of Compliance and as-constructed drawing be provided to Council. This must be done within 28 days.

Fees for 2019-20 
Septic Tank and subsurface disposal or holding tank$499
Aerobic system with irrigation area$499
Upgrade to existing wastewater system (no underfloor works)$371
Connection to CWMS/STEDS$371
Alteration to existing wastewater system$243

Your onsite wastewater system will require continued maintenance and this depends on what type of system you have.

  • Septic tanks:
    • Require to be pumped out by a licensed EPA contractor every 4 years (minimum).
  • Aerobic Systems:
    • Must be serviced quarterly by a suitably qualified person. A copy of this report is to be provided to Council.
  • Holding Tanks:
    • Require regular pump-outs. Copies of these cart-notes must be supplied to Council.

Please contact Council at least 24 hours prior to undertaking the following stages:

  • underfloor plumbing (water test)
  • drainage works connected to septic tank  or aerobic tank (water test)
  • soakage trench/ bed prior to covering or backfilling
  • on completion of the irrigation disposal area

Contact can be made by calling the office on 8539 1100 or email: council@murraybridge.sa.gov.au