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Effluent & Septic Tanks

Septic tank cleanout services

Septic cleanouts are conducted on request. Systems if carefully operated, can last 10 years before a cleanout is required. This of course depends on the care each system receives. The following information is provided to help customers to get maximum benefit out of the onsite systems. 

Maintaining a Septic System

The effectiveness of a septic system will depend on how it is operated and maintained. The following is a guide on how to achieve the most from a system.

Points to consider:

  • Every property that has an effluent pump out system (contained tanks) should be on a scheduled service frequency to maintain the approval to operate the system.
  • Septic cleanouts (seep away systems and the collection tank of an effluent system) should be conducted at least every 10 years depending on the degree of use and care of the system discharges. Trenches to septic tank seep away systems should ideally be located away from trees and have cleared exposure to direct sun. Grass should be cut regularly to promote drying.
  • Septic tanks are meant to be full. Some odours may be present and this is not unusual.

Please note that during excessive rain periods, rainwater may infiltrate the tanks or trenches on the property causing the system to fail. Keeping the tank lid clear of grass, plants and weeds is a good way of caring for your tank, if cracks appear in the lid and noticed it is important to get them fixed.

Healthy Septic System - ‘Dos’ and ‘Don’ts’

  • Do have a septic tank desludged every 5-10 years to prevent sludge build up, which may ‘clog’ the pipes and absorption trenches.
  • Don’t put bleaches, disinfectants, whiteners, nappy soakers and spot removers into the septic tank via the sink, washing machine or toilet.
  • Do have a septic tank serviced annually by contractors to check scum and sludge levels, and the presence of blockages in the inlet and outlet pipes.
  • Don’t allow any foreign materials such as nappies, sanitary napkins, condoms and other hygiene products to enter the system.
  • Do use biodegradable detergents, such as concentrates with low phosphorous. Check household products for suitability for use with a septic system.
  • Don’t use more than the recommended amounts of detergents.
  • Do keep a record of pumping, inspections and other maintenance.
  • Don’t put fats and oils down the drain and keep food waste out of the system.
  • Do ensure the tank is water proof and does not leak, or allows rain water to enter, and ensure the tank is mosquito-proofed.
  • Don’t install and use a garbage grinder or spa bath if the system is not designed for it.
  • Do conserve water – use water saving devices. Provide additives to assist biological activity of the system.
  • Don’t use ammonia based products as they are especially damaging to the organisms within the septic tank.

Septic Systems - Troubleshooting and warning signs

Look out for a few warning signs that signal that there are troubles with the septic tank. Ensure that these problems are attended to immediately to protect the health of residents and the environment.

Look out for the following:

  • Water that drains too slowly
  • Drain pipes that gurgle and make noises when air bubbles are forced back through the system
  • Strong and persistent sewerage smells indicate a likely problem
  • Water is backing up into the sink which may indicate that the septic system is already failing

What should be done if a system has any of the warning signs

Several products are available on the market that can assist with the maintenance of a septic tank. Most are enzyme activated products that digest fats, grease and other wastes that can clog the system and cause odours. Usually dosed through the toilet and then flushed, it will significantly increase the time between cleanouts.

Has a clean out of the tank occurred within the last 5 -10 years?

If not, contact Shoalhaven Water to organise a 'Cleanout' ph: 4429 3214.
Complete the Septic Tank Cleanout Application and remit your payment to Shoalhaven City Council. A septic tank cleanout is a pre-paid service and will be conducted within 3 working days of receipt of application and payment.

Unfortunately payments for septic tank cleanouts cannot in the first instance be made by Credit Card or BPay. If this is the only means by which payment can be made, please contact Shoalhaven Water directly.

For further information on maintaining a septic system contact Shoalhaven Water directly on 02 4429 3214.

Additional Information

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