Tanks and cleanout services


If your home is not connected to Council’s reticulated town sewer network then you are likely to dispose of your wastewater using an onsite sewage management system such as a septic tank or aerated wastewater treatment system.

These systems can last for several years before a cleanout is required but this depends on the care each system receives.

Please note: Cleanouts should be conducted every few years to remove the buildup of sludge that accumulates in the bottom of the tank to ensure the system is working efficiently.

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

  • Water drains too slowly
  • Drainpipes gurgle and make noises
  • Strong and persistent sewerage smells
  • Water is backing up into the sink

Excessive rain may infiltrate the tanks or trenches on the property causing a 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 it is important to get them fixed. 

Septic tanks

Septic tanks are generally buried, water-tight containers usually made of concrete, fiberglass, or polyethylene.They are designed to hold wastewater long enough to separate the waste liquids in the tank allowing the solids to settle on the bottom of the tank and any oil and grease products floating on the top. From the surface, the outside of the tank may look like this:

Septic tank with concrete lid

On the inside, a septic tank will look something like this:

Cross section of a septic tank

Over time the solids on the bottom of the tank form a sludge that must be removed in order to avoid system failure such as blockages and the transfer of solids to your disposal area like a trench or second collection tank.  

The liquid is treated by anerobic bacteria which improves the wastewater quality to ensure it is suitable for subsurface disposal. 

Aerated waste treatment systems (AWTS)

An AWTS is most often a concrete tank installed underground so you only see the lid and electrical control box. They can be described as an onsite “mini treatment plant” that treats all the wastewater from your home. This kind of system is designed to treat wastewater to a higher environmental standard than a septic tank. On the surface, the system may look something like this:

Aerated Water Treatment System located on rural property

On the inside they look something like this:

Cross section of an aerated waste water tank


An AWTS system must be serviced quarterly by a qualified service agent contracted by you, and they will advise when a cleanout is required.

Due to the delicate nature of the treatment process, the service agent must be onsite at the cleanout to instruct the contractor where to pump from during the cleanout. On completion of the cleanout, the service agent will refill the tank proportionately to avoid the tank from popping out of the ground.

Brands of AWTS include:

  • Biocycle
  • Bioseptic
  • Econocycle
  • Envirocycle
  • FujiClean
  • Garden Master
  • Taylex
  • Supertreat
  • Ultraclear

Care and maintenance

If carefully operated, systems can last several years before a cleanout is required, but we recommend arranging a cleanout roughly every five (5) years.

To get the most value out of your system:

  • 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.
  • Trenches to septic tank seep-away systems should ideally be located away from trees and have cleared exposure to direct sun and 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.
  • 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. 

Regardless of type, regular care and maintenance of your system is important.

If you’re experiencing warning symptoms, there are several products on the market that can help maintain a healthy system. 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.

Tried these steps and still have a problem? It’s probably a good idea to request a clean-out of your system.

How do I arrange a tank cleanout?

Depending on the capacity and type of tank on your property, there are different service request forms.

We offer cleanout services for the following types of tanks

Please note: If the tank is greater than 8,000L or a non-standard tank, please contact us on (02) 4429 3214 to arrange a quote for a service.

Our online cleanout requests are a pre-paid service and will be conducted within three (3) working days of us receiving your request. 

What if I need a cleanout immediately?

Call us immediately on (02) 4429 3214 so that we can escalate your request as a high priority, and submit our online cleanout request form applicable to your system:

An emergency cleanout will be actioned within 24 hours of us being notified. The emergency cleanout will incur an additional fee payable alongside the standard cleanout fee. Review the fees and charges for effluent removal for more information.