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Wastewater means waste mainly consisting of water, and includes any of the following:
- sewage or another human-derived wastewater
- wash down water or cooling water
- irrigation run-off or contaminated stormwater
- contaminated groundwater
- water containing any commercial, industrial or trade waste.
About new wastewater laws from 1 July, 2021
From 1 July 2021, there is a general environmental duty to minimise risks to the environment and human health. This means managing wastewater infrastructure to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste. You must also maintain systems to minimise potential harm.
About the waste management hierarchy
The waste management hierarchy is a tool that shows different ways to manage waste from most to least preferred.
EPA believes the hierarchy is central to Victoria using its resources sustainably. The hierarchy has an order of preference, with number one being most preferred:
- Recovery of energy
As the hierarchy shows, the best way to manage wastewater is to avoid producing it. Reusing or recycling wastewater are the next preferred options, however this may involve treatment.
Disposal is the least preferred option. For wastewater, this includes discharging into waterways.
How to manage onsite wastewater treatment systems
Centralised sewerage systems are the best way to manage wastewater in cities and towns. In rural areas, individual onsite wastewater treatment systems or septic systems are acceptable alternatives. This applies when there’s no access to centralised systems.
We provide information on approved wastewater treatment systems and managing onsite wastewater systems. This is for both the domestic and industrial sectors.
How to manage sewerage system discharges, leaks and spills
It’s important to design and manage sewerage systems to minimise the risks to human health and the environment. However, leaks and overflows can happen. These can pose serious risks to human health and the environment. Our guidance for how to manage them includes:
- Managing sewage discharges to inland waters (publication 473)
- EPA notification protocol for reporting high priority sewer spills (publication 1603)
- Guidelines for risk assessment of wastewater discharges to waterways (publication 1287)
How to manage wastewater at treatment plants
- Guidelines for environmental management – Disinfection of treated wastewater (publication 730)
- Victorian guideline for water recycling (publication 1910)
- Technical information for the Victorian guideline for water recycling (publication 1911)
- Guidelines for environmental management – biosolids land application (publication 943)
- Use of biosolids as geotechnical fill (publication 1288)
- Review on the use of recycled water
Wastewater reuse and EPA’s role
Through our program for reusing wastewater, we:
- provide advice to industry on good environmental practices
- control commercial and industrial wastewater discharges through our permissioning system
- control how industry can reuse wastewater.
Read more about wasterwater
Reviewed 15 March 2021