No deep sewer – you may have an ATU*

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Properties where deep-sewerage is not available, and where the ground maybe too wet or simply unable to use the standard septic tanks; may have an Aeorbic Treatment Unit (ATU), which is a wastewater recycling system designed as an efficient two stage biological wastewater treatment plant, which also incorporates disinfection. It has been designed to produce a high quality effluent, which has Health Department approval to be used for reticulation of the non-edible leafy garden.

Having these systems on a property attracts the **Health Department requirement to have it serviced, by a licensed provider, on a quarterly basis. These services generally attract a cost of between $95 – $110 per quarter (based on prices quoted as at January 2015). This cost equates to around the same financial commitment as properties which have deep sewerage and subsequently pay water rates to the Water Corporation on an annual basis.
Points to remember with ATU effluent:

  • is unsuitable for human contact or consumption
  • must only be irrigated onto a dedicated irrigation area
  • must not be surface irrigated in areas such as lawns or areas used for recreational purposes
  • is unsuitable for irrigation onto vegetable gardens or food crops

In some developments such as childcare centres and shopping centres, surface irrigation of effluent may not be permitted due to the accessibility of effluent even in dedicated areas. In such cases dripper irrigation or below ground disposal may be an alternative options.
Permission to irrigate grassed areas is generally given when subsoil dripper irrigation systems are used.

The irrigation area
If the effluent is used for irrigation, the irrigation area (size and location) forms an integral part of the approved wastewater system. It is illegal for owners to modify the location or size of the approved irrigation area without approval from either the local government or the Executive
Director, Public Health. Irrigation areas must:

  • achieve minimum setbacks from certain features such as buildings, boundaries and paved areas, to avoid human exposure to the effluent;
  • not be altered or reduced in size without approval;
  • be looked after so that irrigation lines are accessible for maintenance;
  • be planted out with salt and nutrient resistant plants to avoid puddling or run off of effluent.

Double click on this icon to read the Health Department’s Fact Sheet on ATU’s.

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