Waste Water


Wastewater Overview 

All wastewater must be connected to reticulated sewage or to a system for the onsite treatment of wastewater. This includes grey water (for example water from the laundry or kitchen, including from caravans) and black water (water from a toilet). Wastewater can be contaminated with harmful pathogens such as E. coli, harmful chemicals, pharmaceuticals or microplastics.  

No wastewater is permitted to be discharged onto the road, public place, or storm water drains. This can include pool backwash, car washing or grey water from caravans. All storm water drains in Broome discharge into the ocean, and it is important that the ocean is protected from contamination wherever possible. Penalties may be enforced.  

For most properties this will mean connecting to the Water Corporation’s reticulated sewerage system. In areas where reticulated sewerage is not available, onsite waste water disposal is required. To see if a property is connected, or can be connected to sewer, please contact the Water Corporation on 13 13 95. If sewer is not available, an approval for the onsite treatment of waste water will be required.

If you have any urgent safety concerns about an onsite waste water treatment system contact the Environmental Health team on 9191 3456. 

Onsite Treatment of Wastewater

If a sewer connection is not available with 91 metres an approval to install an onsite effluent disposal system will be required. To obtain approval an application to construct or install an apparatus for the treatment of sewage must be lodged with the Shire’s Health Services, which will then be assessed and subject to approved conditions. Please be aware that planning approval and building approval might be issued but do not provide or infer approval to install an onsite wastewater system. 

Systems must comply with the requirements of the Health (Treatment of Sewage and Disposal of Effluent and Liquid Waste) Regulations 1974 and the AS/NZS1547:2012 On-site domestic wastewater management.  

 Applications must be submitted with the prescribed fee. This fee is made up of two charges, a fee for an "Approval to Construct an Apparatus" and a fee for a "Permit to Use" once it is installed. 

Applications for multiple dwellings and premises that produce more than 540 litres of sewage per day must also be approved by the Department of Health - additional fees apply in these cases.  

An application must be submitted for new systems or any modifications to existing systems.  

Application to Construct, Install or Modify an Apparatus 

An application must be submitted to the Shire before any works are undertaken. This will include  

  • Application to Construct or Install an Apparatus for the Treatment of Sewage
  • A copy of plan and specifications of the proposed apparatus showing the top and longitudinal section to a scale of not less than 1:50. 
  • Site plan of the premises to a scale not less than 1:100, showing: 
    • the position of all buildings erected or proposed and the position of the proposed and any existing apparatus including setback distances. 
    • the position, type and proposed use of all fixtures intended to discharge into the apparatus; 
    • the position and setback distances of all drains, pipes, inspection openings, vents, traps and junctions in relation to buildings and boundaries;
    • the size of pipes and fittings and the fall of the drains;
    • details of the proposed and any existing effluent disposal system and its setback distances to buildings, boundaries and trafficable areas; and
    • the source of water supply to be used in connection with the apparatus if premises is not supplied by a non-reticulated mains supply
  • Payment of the prescribed fee. 

Completed application forms can be submitted here - Application to Construct or Install an Apparatus for the Treatment of Sewage

Permit to Use an Apparatus

A final inspection of the waste water treatment system must be undertaken by a Shire of Broome Environmental Health Officer, before the system is permitted to be used. 

The responsibility is with the installer of the system to arrange the inspection. 

Please ensure prior to the inspection that: 

  • The tanks, leach drains, pipe work etc has been left exposed.
  • All conditions as specified on the approval letter have been completed.
  • Power is available and connected to the pump and alarm, if installed. 

Once the system has been inspected and commissioned, a Permit to Use will be issued and you are able to move into your dwelling or use the system. 

Important note: It is an offence to use a system before it has been inspected and approved. Penalties may be applied, and offenders may be reported to the Plumbers Licencing Board.  

In some instances, due to the remoteness of some installations, photographic evidence may be a suitable alternative to an inspection being completed by an Environmental Health Officer. This must be arranged prior to the installation of the system and confirmed in writing. Failure to do so may result in penalties being applied.  

The Shire holds copies of most onsite treatment of wastewater systems and for those systems that have been decommissioned. Please contact the Shire for copies of available records. 

Updated September 2022  

Decommission an Onsite Wastewater Treatment System 

New property owners are advised to obtain proof from previous owners that septic systems have been suitably maintained or decommissioned as required.  
In order to decommission a septic apparatus the following must take place:
  1. The septic apparatus is to be pumped out by a licensed liquid waste contractor. The contractor is to provide a receipt.
  2. The apparatus is to be removed. All septic tanks, soak wells and leach drains must be accounted for and removed. Note: Soak wells and leach drains may be connected in series and in parallel. 
  3. The holes must be backfilled with clean compacted sand.
  4. Notify the Shire of the decommissioning works carried out by completing the attached form and include the pump out receipt.
 It is recommended that the septic system be completely removed particularly where there is intention to further develop the property. Where it is not practicable to completely remove the septic apparatus, an alternative is to back fill the entire system (septic tanks, soak wells/leach drains) as it remains in the ground, with clean compacted sand. The base of the septic tanks must first be completely broken to allow for proper drainage.
Upon decommissioning of the septic apparatus, the Shire is to be notified in order to keep an accurate record of existing systems within the Shire. This will then prevent delays in processing future development applications and delays in settlement when it becomes time to sell the property.  

This form is to be filled out by the contractor/person who carried out the works and must indicate the number of septic tanks and soak wells and/or leach drains that were removed. 

Timeframe for Decommissioning a Septic System

The Shire of Broome recommends that any onsite wastewater treatment system should be decommissioned as soon as practicable, as systems can collapse without warning. Legally you must decommission the apparatus within 60 days of a change of use or ownership of the premises, or where foundations for a building are to be built closer than 1.2m to an apparatus or where a building is proposed above an apparatus. 

If you wish to carry out decommissioning works or you require more information, please contact an Environmental Health Officer on 9191 3456.


Updated September 2022