On this page
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 wastewater laws
There is a general environmental duty to minimise risks to the environment and human health. This means managing wastewater infrastructure, including legacy systems, to minimise risks of harm to human health and the environment from pollution and waste. You must take all reasonably practicable steps to maintain systems to minimise potential harm.You have a responsibility to make sure your waste goes to the right place. You must comply with the industrial waste duties, when managing industrial waste, and the Environment Protection Regulations 2021. Check here to see whether your activity requires a permission from EPA.
About the waste management hierarchy
The waste management hierarchy is a tool that shows different ways to manage waste from most to least preferred.
The hierarchy is central to Victoria using its resources sustainably. Waste should be managed in accordance with the following order as far as is reasonably practicable:
- 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.
Onsite wastewater treatment systems
A permit from council is required to construct, install or alter an on-site wastewater management system with a design or actual flow rate of sewage not more than 5000L on any day.
Systems that can treat more than 5000L per day need an EPA development licence and operating licence (unless an exemption applies).
More information about the regulatory framework and approval process for on-site wastewater management systems is available..
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:
- Sewerage management guidelines (publication 1707)
- 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).
If a notifiable incident occurs, you must report this to EPA.
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:
- Victorian guideline for water recycling (publication 1910)
- Technical information for the Victorian guideline for water recycling (publication 1911)
- Guidelines for wastewater irrigation (publication 168)
- Guidelines for environmental management – Disinfection of treated wastewater (publication 730)
- Guidelines for environmental management – biosolids land application (publication 943)
- Use of biosolids as geotechnical fill (publication 1288)
- Guidelines for risk assessment of wastewater discharges to waterways (publication 1287)
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 wastewater
Reviewed 9 November 2021