Waste water

Regardless of the type of property, waste water must be disposed of in an approved manner. Disposing of waste water other than rainwater in a stormwater drain is not permitted. For most properties this will mean connecting to the Water Corporation’s reticulated sewerage system. In areas where reticulated sewerage is not available, onsite effluent disposal is required. 

If you’d like to install a grey water system on your premises, please lodge an Application to Construct or Install an Apparatus for the Treatment of Sewage with us.

It's an offence to install a waste water system without City approval, and to commission the system prior to final inspection and approval to use from the City.

In areas where reticulated sewerage is not available, onsite effluent disposal is required. There are a few types of systems all with their own unique advantages and disadvantages, our comparison guide explains these.

Before an onsite effluent disposal system is installed, an application must be lodged with the City and approval obtained. 

For applications for a single residence approval is obtained direct from the City. To make an application, complete this application form, pay the fee and provide supporting documentation.

For commercial properties, applications for a second system on a property or systems larger than 540L/day you will need to use the Department of Health's application form(open in new window). This application is still lodged to the City of Swan however additional fees may apply. 

For more information on the application process please refer this information package.

Apply to construct or install an apparatus for the treatment of sewage

When sewer becomes available to a premises which has an onsite effluent disposal system, the owner has five years in which to disconnect the disposal system and connect to the sewer.  

To decommission an apparatus you must have the septic tanks emptied by a Licensed Liquid Waste Contractor and disposed of at an approved site and either:

  • Remove the septic tanks, leach drains or soak wells from site and backfill with clean compacted sand (this option is recommended particularly if property development is planned in the future).


  • Remove the septic tank, leach drain or soak well lids and ensure the bottom of the septic tanks are broken up. Backfill the septic tanks, leach drains and soak wells with clean compacted sand.

Once a system has been decommissioned it can be difficult to prove this fact. Therefore you are encouraged to retain copies of any receipts and where possible take photos of the decommissioning work being undertaken for future reference.

Water Corporation

If the problem is with the Water Corporation’s sewer you can contact them on 13 13 75 to report the fault.

Private property: Owners are responsible to address problems with their property's plumbing (on site disposal system or prior to sewer connection point). 

Old onsite disposal systems

Onsite effluent disposal systems will not function forever. Over time the soil surrounding the leach drains becomes clogged and saturated with fats which prevent it draining properly.

If you have an old system which is not draining correctly your leach drains may need rejuvenating. To do this the existing soil surrounding the leach drains is removed and disposed of and new clean soil reinstated. Approval for this work is not required by the City unless the actual leach drains are going to be replaced.

Obtaining plans

Copies of plans may be available from the City. However depending on the age of the property this is not always the case or the quality of the information may be limited. Contact us

Odour Complaints

If you experience odour issues from a neighbouring property you should discuss the problem with them. If you are still unhappy you may report the issue to us.

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