On-site management systems

Wastewater Management in Alexandrina Council

Some properties in the Alexandrina Council are serviced by either Council run Community Wastewater Management Systems (CWMS), privately managed CWMS, or SA Water Sewer (only some properties in Chiton/ Hayborough). All other properties require onsite wastewater systems.

If your property has access to an offsite disposal method (Council or privately managed system) it is expected that this method is utilised in preference to onsite disposal.

Council approval is required for any wastewater works in areas that are not serviced by SA Water sewer systems. Please complete a Wastewater works application form for your proposed wastewater works. There are different information requirements for each type of wastewater works application and a summary of these requirements, as well as a link to the legislation and wastewater works application can be found here:

Our preferred method of lodgement is electronic.  You can lodge applications electronically by sending them to  alex@alexandrina.sa.gov.au.  For larger files (exceeding 10MB) please upload your documents here

Please Note: Standard processing time from payment of fees is approximately 6 weeks provided that the application is accurate and complete.  If relevant information is not provided this will result in a delay of assessment and approval of the application.

Learn more about Septic Wastewater

Community Wastewater Management Systems (CWMS) in Alexandrina Council

Within Alexandrina, there are two types of CWMS; sewer systems and Septic Tank Effluent Drainage Systems (STEDs). Both require Council approval for installation, connection and alteration.
Further information on CWMS please refer to Alexandrina Wastewater here 

Watch this short video on Septic Tanks connected to Council's wastewater system.

For more information please see:

On-site wastewater management in Alexandrina Council

All properties not services by CWMS require an onsite wastewater system. There are a number of commonly used on-site wastewater systems approved by Council:

  • Septic tank with soakage systems
  • Aerated wastewater treatment systems (formerly called aerobic systems). Including sandfilter systems
  • Holding tank systems.

From 16 June 2013, a suite of alternative systems which have formerly been approved by Department of Health can also be applied for through Council for assessment using AS/NZS1547 - Disposal Systems for effluent from Domestic Premises. These systems include:

  • Permanent Greywater systems
  • Other Alternative wastewater systems.

Please also refer to the section related to altering wastewater systems for further information on these requirements

Septic tank with soakage systems

This system works by initial treatment of the wastewater by a septic tank. The 'treated' wastewater is then directed to underground soakage trenches that allow the wastewater to be absorbed by the ground. As this system relies on the ability of the surrounding area to absorb the wastewater, the quality of the soil determines if this type of system is suitable. The septic tank needs to be pumped out on average every 4 years (or more often in some circumstances) to ensure that the ground does not become clogged from lesser quality wastewater. Please note that all applications require sign off on plans by a suitably qualified wastewater engineer and installation by an appropriately licensed plumber who can provide a COC for the installation.

Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems (formerly aerobic systems)

This system works by initial treatment of the wastewater by a septic tank and then further treatment to improve the quality of the wastewater to ensure it is safe to be discharged at surface level. This can be either through an approved tank-style treatment system or through a sandfilter. These systems require a significant amount of dedicated irrigation area to dispose of the treated effluent onsite as well as a suitable area for recreational usage (recreation area allowance is 50% of required irrigation area). Please note that from 16 June 2013, all applications require design and sign off by a suitably qualified wastewater engineer and installation by an appropriately licensed plumber who can provide a COC for the installation (this includes the irrigation area regardless of whether it is surface or subsurface irrigation).

The irrigation area is required to be landscaped, preferably with shrubs and trees and should be designed to discourage pedestrian and vehicle access. The septic tank needs to be pumped out on average every 4 years and the system requires 3 monthly maintenance through an approved servicing contractor. Owners are not permitted to undertake servicing of their own aerobic systems without undertaking training and accreditation recognised by legislation.

Further information on this type of system can be found here:

Holding tank systems

This system works by initial treatment of the effluent by a septic tank and then storage of the treated effluent in a holding tank which is a form of temporary containment. This type of system is ONLY approved where no other system can be installed, such as within 100m of the Murray River. Legislation prohibits the use of holding tanks in new subdivisions. With this type of system, the septic tank needs to be pumped out on average every 4 years and the holding tank pumped as required (an alarm is fitted with the holding tank to alert capacity and to cut off water supply when alarm sounds).

Greywater systems

Council supports residents safely reusing their greywater, however it is important to know that any permanent greywater systems require approval. From 16 June 2013, applications for permanent greywater systems should be lodged with Council for approval.

Where a permanent setup is not sought, SA Health permits the manual bucketing and temporary diversion of greywater. No application is required for non-permanent bucketing and temporary greywater diversion.

To ensure manual bucketing and temporary diversion is undertaken safely, there are a few basic principles that must be followed:

  • Don't use greywater from washing clothes soiled by faeces or vomit, eg nappies
  • Use greywater as soon as possible and never store greywater for more then 24 hours
  • Don't use greywater if anyone in the household is sick
  • Don't use greywater to irrigate fruit or vegetables
  • Avoid splashing greywater
  • Keep children away from areas watered with greywater until it has soaked into the ground

For more information please refer to SA Health's:

Alternative wastewater systems

There are a number of alternative wastewater systems that can be installed in accordance with AS/NZS 1547. Alternative systems include reed bed systems, composting toilets, ETA trenches, Wisconsin mounds and other hybrid alternatives Applications for these should now be directed to Alexandrina Council. Your plumber may be able to provide you with further information on the suitability of an alternative system for your site.

Further information can be found here:

Altering a wastewater system

It is a requirement that an Application for Wastewater Works Approval must be lodged for any alterations to wastewater systems, including for additions such as ensuites, upgrades, changing placement of irrigation areas etc. 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.

Trade Waste

Trade waste is a consideration for all commercial premises and altering business activities can also alter trade waste requirements. A trade waste is a discharge that can include oils, fats and other corrosive materials. Adequate pre-treatment is required of any trade waste in order to protect wastewater infrastructure. This information will be required as part of any application for wastewater works through Council and may need to be upgraded as business activities change.

Caring for your Wastewater System

Contact Council

Stormwater related enquiries such as new Septic Tank Stormwater installations which are currently under construction (Development Approval received) should be directed to Council’s Development Engineer (08) 8555 7000.

Requests for new stormwater or stormwater associated with a Planning Development Application should be directed to Council's Assets Manager (08) 8555 7000.

Reporting a problem with Stormwater

If you need to report a problem with existing stormwater e.g. drains overflowing or damage to stormwater cut outs, please contact Council on (08) 8555 7000 and ask to speak to Council’s Field Services to log a customer service request for investigation and action.