Septic tanks

If you are part of one of the Council’s five STEP schemes, or have your own on-site disposal field, care of your septic tank is crucial to its successful operation. The septic tank, pipework to the boundary and pumps are the responsibility of the property owner.

Below are a few points to assist in looking after your septic tank system.

How to use your septic tank

Provided it is properly cared for, your septic tank is a simple and effective means of effluent disposal and will give you many years of reliable service. Remember to:

Reduce sludge build-up

  • DO scrape all your dishes to remove fats and food particles before washing
  • DO keep all possible solids out of your system
  • DON'T use a waste disposal unit
  • DON'T pass sanitary napkins, disposable nappies etc. into the system.

Septic tank sludge - right way  Septic tank sludge - wrong way

Conserve water

  • DO install water saving devices, e.g. dual flush toilets
  • DO take showers instead of baths
  • DON'T wash clothes until you have a full load.

Septic Tank Effluent Pump (STEP) systems

Regular maintenance

By following a simple maintenance programme you can ensure that you will continue to have an efficient and healthy disposal system for many years.

Clean the septic tank regularly

This should be done about every three years to remove the build-up of solids in the tank and the date recorded for future reference. If you need advice, contact your local cleaning contractor or the Council wastewater department.   

If you are connected to a Council wastewater STEP scheme, the cleaning of the septic tank is carried out by the Council every three years and is paid for as part of your annual rates. 

Keep the bacteria working

  • DO use biodegradable soaps and washing powder.
  • DON’T overuse powerful bleaches and disinfectants or put chemicals or paint down the drain.

For further information on your septic tank system, look at the WaterNZ booklet - The Story of Your Septic Tank (pdf, 1.2 MB).