Waste water checks pushing on

Published on 13 June 2014

Council’s waste water audit around the Shire is now more than halfway through, with project officer Cameron Earl reporting on the five locations surveyed and others under way.

The aim of the 12-month assignment was to establish a database of all older waste water systems in the municipality, focusing particularly on unsewered towns and properties within 100 metres of key water catchment areas.

Cameron’s brief was to uncover any evidence of risks either to public health or the environment.

So far, he has completed his inspections in Borung, Dingee, Mysia, Tarnagulla and Newbridge and is working in Serpentine, Mitiamo, Laanecoorie, Eddington, Wychitella and Korong Vale.

“The good news is that 96% of properties I’ve seen are keeping their waste water on-site,” he said.

“Most of the septic systems in the Shire are very old – over 20 years – and not necessarily designed to cope with the amount of waste water generated by households these days.

“I was expecting to see lots of problems.

“It’s been hard even to locate the systems in some cases, but I have been able to find them in 81% of properties visited.

“However, it hasn’t always been the whole system – often just a pump well, tank or trenches – but that’s been enough to get a basic understanding of how the system in working.

“One pleasing discovery has been that 79% of people have had some kind of water-saving devices, which all help to reduce the load on these older systems.

“Septic tanks should be pumped out regularly – every three to five years, depending on use.

“This is particularly important to reduce the amount of oils and grease moving from the septic tank into the pipes and trenches, so contributing to blockages.

“De-sludging also refreshes the micro-organisms in the tank. 

“Seventy per cent of tanks inspected had not been pumped out over the past three years and, in one case, the last pump-out was 32 years ago.”

Cameron said more than half the tanks seen were classed as medium-risk, meaning they were due to be de-sludged.

Only 2% were rated high-risk, meaning the tank was leaking or badly damaged.