How To Avoid Wastewater Treatment System Failures

Published on Thursday, 2 April 2020 at 2:52:50 PM

The Shire of Chittering does not have any reticulated sewerage systems and relies on on-site bacteriological systems such as septic tanks and aerobic treatment units for the treatment and disposal of wastewater (sewage). These systems rely on the good health of microbes to break down waste matter from toilets, kitchens and bathrooms in order to be effective.
The most common system is the conventional septic tank system that is used in approximately 80 % of dwellings in the Shire. The following tips will help to ensure that the septic system works effectively:

Tips for a healthy efficient septic tank system:

  • Have the septic tanks pumped out regularly
  • Allow as little fat or grease as possible into the system
  • Minimise and stagger water usage
  • Regularly switch the drain or soakwells in use if you have an alternating system
  • Do not dispose of non-biodegradable materials into your septic e.g. plastics
  • Do not dispose of old medicines, large amounts of disinfectant (biocides) or other stong chemicals into the septic tank. These can kill the normal bacteria and interfere with the system. Bleaches and detergents have no adverse effects when use in moderation.
  • Do not drive vehicles over the system

Note that only authorised liquid waste contractors can empty a septic tank system.

Aerobic Treatment Units (ATUs) have been installed in about 20% of the properties in the Shire. These systems are far more efficient in treating wastewater compared to septic tank systems. However, they consist of many mechanical and electrical components that require regular servicing (usually every 3 months).

The Department of Health requires by law that all ATUs are serviced by authorised technicians only. It is important for owners to ensure that this occurs and that they do not allow service contracts to lapse or attempt to service the units themselves.

You are reminded NOT to flush wipes or other non-toilet paper forms of paper down any toilet.  

Covid-19 Advice From The Department Of Health

The Department of Health advises that there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted by wastewater systems. Conventional disinfection of wastewater, designed and operated to meet current standards and guidelines, will be more than adequate to control the transmission of COVID-19 via recycled water and wastewater.

Further information regarding the COVID-19 environmental health risks in the community can be viewed at:

Note that this information is current as at 1 April 2020. The situation is changing rapidly, and future development may alter this advice. It is important that you always look for the most up-to-date information at

Further enquiries can be made to the Shire’s Principal Environmental Health Officer on 9576 4614 or 0427 980 619 or email

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