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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:

  1. Avoidance
  2. Reuse
  3. Recycling
  4. Recovery of energy
  5. Containment
  6. Disposal

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:

How to manage wastewater at treatment plants

The wastewater industry plays an important role in reducing impacts on Victoria’s water environments. The publications below aim to help you better protect the environment as part of your operations: 

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

How to prevent water pollution from your business

How to use and recycle wastewater

About wastewater

Alternative water supplies and their use

Water recycling guidance

How to manage dairy farm effluent

Stormwater guidance for industry

Reviewed 15 March 2021