Septic Tanks


Reporting a failing septic tank system

Reporting a failing septic tank system in the Ballarat municipality can be done by contacting either the EPA or councils Environmental Health Unit.

Complaints regarding failing septic tank systems should be as detailed as possible to enable a thorough investigation to be completed. The complainant should be able to provide specific details regarding the septic tank failure (i.e. location of the offsite discharge) including the address of the property in concern. Complainants will be required to provide their name and contact details to assist officers during the investigation process, however this information will be kept confidential.



Councils Environmental Health Unit are the responsible agency for approving all new installations and alterations to existing septic tank systems within the City of Ballarat.

If you are building a house on land which is not serviced by the Central Highlands Water reticulated sewerage system then you will be required to install a septic tank system to adequately treat the waste water generated from the property. The Environmental Health Unit assess applications and issues permits to install EPA (Environment Protection Authority) approved septic tank systems treating less than 5000 L/day of waste water.

Land Capability Assessments

A land capability assessment must be done by an appropriately qualified person. Land capability assessors can be found in the Yellow Pages under 'Soil Testing and Investigation'.

Information for Plumbers

City of Ballarat septic tank system design diagrams: 

Evapotransporation trenches construction diagram.

Sand filter trenches construction diagram.

Applying for a Septic Tank PermitTop of document.

Step 1

If you require a Planning Permit for the proposed development, you must obtain a planning permit before a septic tank permit can be issued. To determine if a planning permit is required, contact Councils Statutory Planning Unit.

Step 2

Contact Central Highlands Water (CHW) to determine if your property is situated within the designated sewerage district.  Central Highlands Water are a referral agency for all properties located within their sewerage district.  They will determine if you should consult with council regarding a septic tank system for your property.

Step 3

Collate the following information to be submitted as part of the application:

  • Land Capability Assessment (LCA): 

A land capability assessment will need to be submitted as part of the application.  Without a Land Capability Assessment it is impossible to determine the capability of the land to sustain a septic tank system. However, a Land Capability Assessment for your property may have already been undertaken when the property was sub divided so you may be able to access this report.

       Your plan needs to include -

i. Clearly identify the location of the property including the street or lot number.

ii. Show the location and names of other streets and laneways in the immediate area.

i. Identifying the proposed location of the dwelling including shed, driveways, stock areas, tennis courts, swimming pools or any other structure intended to be constructed on the lot.

ii. Identify the area you intend to install the septic tank system.

i. Your plan needs to clearly identify all bedrooms and study.

ii. Be on a scale of no less than 1:100.

  • Title:

i. A copy of the land title is required to determine if there are any encmbrances on the land.

Step 4

Complete the Application for a Permit to Install or Alter a Septic Tank System.

Step 5

Submit the complete application (including the above documentation) and pay the appropriate fee. The correct fee can be obtained by contacting the Environmental Health Unit. 

Certificate to use

A certificate to use will only be issued once councils Environmental Health Unit have completed a final inspection of the installed septic tank system and the following documents have been submitted to the Environmental Health Unit:

  • A plan as laid (site plan detailing the location of the septic tank system as installed); and
  • Plumbers compliance certificate for the sanitary fixtures, and for the septic tank system.

NOTE: A Building Surveyor cannot issue an 'occupancy certificate' for your house until Council first issues your 'certificate to use'.

It is in your best interest to discuss with the plumber, the location and maintenance requirements of the septic tank system installed on your property.

Septic Tank MaintenanceTop of document.

Septic tank systems do not have an unlimited life span. Responsibility for managing septic tank systems lies with the property owner. A properly managed septic tank system will assist in prolonging the life of the system and prevent it from premature failure resulting in a public health risk to the occupants and surrounding environment. 

As a rule of thumb Septic tank systems should be desludged every 3 years to prevent an excess of solids accumulating in the system resulting in septic tank failure.