What is effluent waste?

Effluent waste is, broadly, sewage that has been treated in a septic tank, or a sewage treatment plant. It is also referred to as "trade effluent" or "wastewater."

Onsite effluent disposal involves the treatment and disposal of sewage from the property onsite. In areas of the Shire where connection to reticulated sewerage is not available, onsite effluent disposal is required.


What type of systems are there?

The most common type of system installed historically throughout Western Australia is the septic tank and leach drain system. Today there are many different types of systems available, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. The Department of Health maintains a list of onsite effluent disposal systems approved for installation in Western Australia which can be accessed here:

Approved Wastewater Systems (Health WA)

The system type and size will depend on factors such as development size, wastewater produced, land gradient, soil conditions and depth to groundwater. Many areas in the Shire are characterized by sloping land, heavy soils, and perched water tables, which can pose challenges for onsite effluent disposal. Within areas where these conditions are present there can be restrictions on what type of system is permitted, but in other cases it is a matter of personal preference.

Do I need to install an on-site effluent disposal system?

All buildings that produce waste water are required to apply for an approved effluent disposal system, or connect to the main sewer in the Shire.

To see if a property is connected, please complete the Property Water Rates Search online via Water Corporation below:


If the sewer is not available to your property, an onsite effluent waste disposal system is required instead.

What approvals are required?

Before an onsite effluent disposal system is installed, an application must be made to the Shire for approval.

  • Where the application is for a system servicing a single dwelling, approval is obtained direct from the Shire.
  • For systems servicing commercial developments where there is an expected wastewater volume of greater than 540L/day, approval will be obtained from the WA Department of Health.

The application is still first submitted to the Shire. Once an application is received along with the required fees and supporting documentation, it will be assessed by the Shire’s Environmental Health Officer to check compliance with legislative requirements.

What application form do I need?

To apply to install an onsite effluent disposal system, please complete an Application to Construct or Install an Apparatus for the Treatment of Sewage.

Application to Construct or Install an Apparatus for the Treatment of Sewage

What will it cost?
  • Domestic Application
    • Local government application fee: $118
    • Fee for the grant of a permit to use an apparatus: $118
  • Commercial Application
    • Local government application fee: $118
    • Local government report fee: $118
    • Health Department of WA application fee: $93 (payable to Health Department of WA)
    • Fee for the grant of a permit to use an apparatus: $118

    Obtaining a permit to use

    Once your effluent system has been installed, the installer must contact the Development Services department to organise a site inspection. Please allow 24 hours notice, and ensure that prior to the inspection:

    • The pipes are left exposed;
    • All conditions as specified on the approval letter have been completed, and;
    • The tanks are filled with water prior to inspection.

    If the effluent system complies to the conditions and is installed correct, a Permit To Use will be issued by the Shire Health Officer. 

    It is important to note that it is an offence to occupy a house or use a system without being issued a Permit To Use.

    Desludging / Pumping out of septic tanks

    Over time, septic tanks will accumulate sludge and scum and will need to be pumped out or desludged.

    As a guide, pumping out / desludging is required as follows:

    • Two-person households: every eight (8) years;
    • Four-person households: every four (4) years;
    • Four+ person households: more often is recommended.

    Pumping out / desludging requires a licenced liquid waste contractor. Contractors are listed in the local yellow pages under the Septic Tank Cleaning category.

    Looking for existing septic tank plans?

    The Shire may have copies of existing septic tank plans. If you are the owner of a property, or have the written consent of the owner, the Shire can provide you with all Building Permits and Septic Applications relevant to that property.

    Reach out online

    Looking for more information, or who you can contact?

    Please contact the Development Services Department at the Shire of Donnybrook Balingup on (08) 9780 4200, visit the Shire Administration Office at 1 Bentley Street, Donnybrook, or via the contact form below.

    Alternatively, you can contact the Department of Health via their website.


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