Domestic Wastewater Management Systems

Council’s Environmental Health Unit are responsible for assessing permit applications for the installation and alteration of Onsite Wastewater Management Systems (septic tank systems) throughout the Glenelg Shire, in accordance with the current Environment Protection Authority (EPA) Code of Practice - Onsite Wastewater Management (891.4) and relevant legislation. It is important that these systems do not harm the environment or become a risk to human health.

Important Information

  1. Regulation 27(2) states that Council has 42 business days to assess an application, if further information is requested the statutory clock stops until that information has been received by Council.
  2. Once the application has been assessed and deemed satisfactory a PERMIT TO INSTALL will be issued to the applicant/owner and plumber.
  3. Permit to Install allows 2 years for the Onsite Wastewater System to be installed. If the system is not installed within this timeframe an application to RENEW must be received by Council 15 business days prior to the permit expiring and the relevant fee paid.
  4. The onsite wastewater system must not be used prior to a CERTIFICATE TO USE being issued by Council's Environmental Health Officer.
  5. Once the system has been installed and the plumber has supplied to Council's Environmental Health Officer a Plumbing Industry Certificate of Compliance, the Environmental Health Officer will carry out a final inspection prior to issuing a Certificate to Use.

Permit Application Process

Before constructing , installing, altering or using any on-site wastewater management system (septic tank system) a permit must be obtained from Council. This is a requirement under Environment Protection Act 2017 s.46(1).

Council can only approve systems that meet the following criteria;

  • Holds a 'Joint Accreditation System of Australia and New Zealand (JAS-ANZ) Certificate of Conformity'
  • Complies with Planning Permits and Planning controls
  • Is designed by a suitably qualified Land Capability Consultant, of whom will provide a Land Capability Assessment Report
  • Has written operation and maintenance information
  • Complies with Environmental Protection Act 2017, Environmental Protection Regulation 2021, Victorian EPA Code of Practice Onsite Wastewater Management 891.4 and MAV Victorian Land Capability Assessment Framework 2014.

In un-sewered areas, Building Surveyors cannot issue a Building Permit until an 'On-site Wastewater Management Permit' has been issued by Council.

Council’s Environmental Health Officers will inspect the property prior to any works commencing to ensure that the proposed system meets the guidelines and legislation . If your property access is restricted, please contact our Environmental Health Unit to make suitable arrangements for Council Officers to undertake the appropriate inspections.

Once the on-site wastewater management system is installed or altered , you will need to submit 'as installed' system layout plans and a 'Plumbing Compliance Certificate' to Council's Environmental Health Unit. If you have installed a Treatment Plant, Sand filter or other alternate system, you will be required to provide a copy of the maintenance agreement with the final layout plan. The owner will be issued with a Certificate to Use once this information has been received and Council's Environmental Health Officers are satisfied the permit conditions have been met.

It is the responsibility of the property owners or occupiers to ensure their septic system is operated, maintained, serviced, pumped out and monitored.

Supporting Documentation

Note: An application is unable to be received by Council if it does not contain all required information set out in Environment Protection Regulations 2021, r.26.

  1. A completed, signed application form
  2. Certificate of conformance for the type of system being installed
  3. Site plan showing all boundaries, buildings, driveways and waste water layout
  4. Floor Plan of dwelling showing layout of rooms, number of bedrooms and plumbing exit points
  5. Copy of Title and Title Plan
  6. A copy of the Land Capability Assessment and/or site Soil Report
  7. Planning Permit (if required)
  8. Payment of relevant application fee

Permit Application Fees

Fees for permit applications are prescribed under the Environment Protection Regulations 2021.

 Fee Type  Fee Amount 2022/23
Application for a Permit to Construct/Install/Alter an Onsite Wastewater System  $777.20
Application for Minor Alteration to an Onsite Wastewater System*  $592.30
Application for an Amendment to Wastewater System Permit  $165.00
 Application to Transfer an Onsite Wastewater Permit  $157.90
 Application to Renew an Onsite Wastewater Permit (prior to expiry date)  $132.10
 Application for Exemption from an Onsite Wastewater Permit  $233.25
 Request for copies of Onsite Wastewater permit and plans  $112.00
 Request for inspection of Onsite Wastewater  $143.50

* "minor alteration "means an alteration that consists only of the installation, replacement or relocation of the internal plumbing, fixtures or fittings of an on-site wastewater management system.

Purchasing an Un-sewered Property

Many properties in the Glenelg Shire are not connected to a reticulated sewerage system and have an onsite wastewater management system installed. Purchasing a property in an un-sewered area might be new to some home owners and prospective buyers who are accustomed to their sewerage services being provided by a Water Authority.

It is important when purchasing a property that you know whether it is connected to a reticulated sewerage system or a septic tank system.

An onsite wastewater management system is commonly referred to as septic or a septic tank system. A septic tank system treats all of the wastewater generated from the dwelling and disposes of or re-uses the treated wastewater onsite, within the property boundaries.

Prospective buyers should first ask whether the property is connected to the reticulated sewerage system or if it has a septic tank system. If the property is not connected to the reticulated sewerage system, we recommend that you request documentation from the vendor about the septic tank system.

Documents to request before purchasing a property include:

  • Permit to Install a Septic Tank System
  • Certificate to Use a Septic Tank System
  • Any approved or stamped plan showing the approved location of the septic tank system and effluent disposal area

A property with a septic tank system requires a Permit to Install and a Certificate to Use to be issued by Council before the system is used or a Certificate of Occupancy is issued by a Building Surveyor. The Permit to Install provides conditions about the type and use of the system approved for the dwelling. An approved plan will show the septic tank location and the effluent disposal area. In some circumstances, owners of septic tank systems have illegally altered their systems without the relevant permits. If you purchase a property without checking or requesting the documentation of the septic tank system and Council finds the system has been altered from its approved certificates, the responsibility sits with the current owner at the time of investigation, who will be required to either to upgrade or return the system to its approved state. 

Domestic Wastewater Management Plan

What is a Domestic Wastewater Management Plan (DWMP)?
Council is required to develop a Domestic Wastewater Management Plan (DWMP) under State legislation to assist with the management of on-site disposal of effluent where land is not connected to a reticulated sewerage system.  A DWMP establishes preferred approaches to monitoring the condition and management of on-site effluent treatment systems, enforcement, and direction for planning decisions on land use and development.

Adopted 2022-2027 DWMP

The Council adopted its most recent DWMP at the July 2022 Council meeting.  The document comprises two parts:

  • – contains an action plan for Council & specifies information requirements for applications for wastewater systems
  • – contains township specific assessments, and much of the technical data used to develop the Plan.

The DWMP encompasses the whole municipality outside of the sewered areas of Portland, Heywood and Casterton.

The Plan categorises all unsewered regions by risk rating, using the most reliable and up-to-date data available on matters such as soil profile and geography, density of existing onsite systems, parcel sizing and proximity to water environments.

These ratings provide clarity to property owners about the information they will have to supply with any future planning application, or where no planning permit is required for a development, for any application to Council’s Environmental Health Unit for a 'Permit to Install' an on-site wastewater treatment system.  

You can download and read a copy of the Plan.(PDF, 6MB)

Onsite Waste System Inspection Program – Nelson

Council’s Environmental Health Unit is carrying out inspections of domestic onsite wastewater (septic) systems as part of the Domestic Wastewater Management Plan (2022-2027).

The aim of conducting these proactive inspections of septic tanks and treatment plant systems is to gain more information about the type, age and health of wastewater systems installed across the council. We know that there are many aged systems, which Council do not have detailed histories for, and we want to ensure the systems are functioning as they should. This program will also support community members education and advice about maintenance of the systems.

It's important for both public health and the environment that domestic onsite wastewater systems are regularly maintained and serviced. Council suggests a pump-out of your wastewater tank if this has not been carried out in the past 5 years.

The first phase of the inspection program is planned to take place between 21 August to 1 September 2023.

Environmental Health Officers will knock on the door prior to carrying out the inspection.

Council will be sending out letters to properties which we have identified for the first phase of the inspection program for Nelson. These properties include developed allotments within 100m of the Glenelg River and other public facilities within the township.

Please find further information below:

  1. Frequently Asked Questions(PDF, 168KB)

If you have any questions or queries, please contact Council’s Environmental Health Unit via email or phone 03 5522 2229.