Looking after your wastewater system will protect the environment, your patrons and staff - and could prevent costly repairs and upgrades. It will also help you meet new environmental protection obligations under the amended Environment Protection Act. These amendments have placed a General Environmental Duty (GED) on businesses to manage their wastewater systems, in addition to any specific Council or EPA permit conditions.

The Environmental Health Team is providing information to food premises with onsite wastewater systems (septic systems) on proactive system maintenance in the lead up to the wine production and Easter holiday seasons.

Onsite Wastewater Management and the Environment Protection Act

 Important steps to meet the GED for wastewater systems include:

  • Minimise the amount of water discharging into the system, through water saving fixtures and water efficiency programs
  • Measure the amount water discharging each day to ensure it does not exceed daily flow limits. A manual or automated flow meter is recommended
  • Limit the amount of bleach, disinfectants grease, fat and oils entering the system
  • Do not dispose of food waste into septic tank system
  • Make sure that grease traps, septic tanks and treatment plants are located and kept accessible
  • Arrange for septic tanks to be pumped annually and treatment plants to be serviced quarterly by authorised contractors
  • Maintain records of system pump out/servicing which can be emailed to the Shire at [email protected] to meet Environment Protection Act obligations
  • Keep disposal fields accessible, clear of vehicles and livestock and planted with suitable grasses or shrubs
  • Arrange for an annual health check of the disposal field by a licensed plumber/drainer. Inspect and clean irrigation filters monthly
  • Ensure that suitable sub-surface disposal systems are in place for your wastewater. Council permits and the amended Environment Protection Act do not allow the discharge of wastewater to dams, lagoons or above ground irrigation systems
  • Educate staff and patrons on the correct use and maintenance of your septic system

For larger restaurants, accommodation and wine production premises it is likely that daily peak wastewater flows will exceed 5,000 litres per day. These systems now require formal EPA permission under the EPA Pathway system. The Pathway application form is at Permissions | Environment Protection Authority Victoria (epa.vic.gov.au). To check if you already have a EPA permission the register is at Register of permissions | Environment Protection Authority Victoria (epa.vic.gov.au).

Resources and assistance

Shire Environmental Health staff and our proactive Wastewater Management Officer are available to provide onsite advice. The Team will soon be commencing it’s annual inspection program to assist Green Wedge wineries and restaurants to meet food safety and wastewater requirements. We encourage you to contact the Environmental Health Team directly by email at [email protected] to book a site visit.

Note that if you need to upgrade your system, funding may be available through Environmental Upgrade Finance (EUF) or other grants.

Get in touch if you would like a copy of the EPA Publication 1976 which outlines wastewater obligations for on site wastewater systems.

The Shire is also reviewing and updating it’s Wastewater Management Policy which manages domestic and commercial wastewater across the Peninsula. We are seeking comments form local businesses at Wastewater Policy Review | Shape our Future (mornpen.vic.gov.au). Consultation closes on 28th March 2022

Other useful links

Septic Tank Permits - Mornington Peninsula Shire (mornpen.vic.gov.au)

Home - Peninsula ECO (betterconnected.com.au)

Regulatory framework for on-site wastewater management systems | Environment Protection Authority Victoria (epa.vic.gov.au)

Food businesses that are managing their septic systems effectively should consider being a part of the Best Bites program. Its free and a great way to build your businesses profile.

Read more about how to get into the Best Bites Food Guide and the other pillars of excellence, or get in touch  with the Shire's Environmental Health Team to ask any questions. Phone them on 5950 1050 or contact the team online.

SUPPORT LOCAL. Think. Spend. Recommend.

Find other ways to support local businesses at mpbusiness.com.au/supportlocal