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The squeamish topic of septic tanks is the focus of a new program planned for the three coastal communities of Cooya, Newell and Wonga Beaches.

The program will assess the efficiency of septic tanks and educate home owners and how they can better maintain their septic tanks, saving them money in the long run. Council wants to gain a better understanding of where your poo is stored, whether it’s affecting groundwater and its potential impacts on the Great Barrier Reef.

We are looking for residents that:

  • live in Wonga, Newell, or Cooya Beach
  • have a bore and septic system
  • will allow contractors and Council access to your property to inspect your septic system, check groundwater levels and collect samples for external laboratory analysis (every two months)
  • participate in a pre and post project survey

There’s no cost involved and participation is voluntary.

The program, which will run until June next year, will provide information to improve Council’s wastewater treatment assessments for future developments.

For residents, it’s an opportunity to learn more about their own septic systems and potentially assist in reducing the amount of contaminated water ending up on the reef and save money.

Council has been successful in receiving funding from the Australian Government through the Reef Guardian Councils Program – Activating Local Councils’ Reef Action Plans grant.

If you are interested in participating in this program please contact or for further information by June 12 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Septic System?

A septic system is a way of treating wastewater from a home using natural processes. It has four main components:

  1. A pipe from the home to carry wastewater to the septic tank.
  2. A septic tank is a buried water-tight container which holds the wastewater and allows solids to settle and form sludge, separating the solids from the liquid (effluent).
  3. A shallow, covered absorbent trench (drain field) where the liquid wastewater (effluent) from the septic tank goes, and eventually seeps into the soil.
  4. The soil filters and treats the effluent by removing most contaminants and microbes before it reaches groundwater.

Septic systems can be vulnerable to poor soil conditions (clay, sand etc.), high water table, clogging of the drain lines, damage to the drain lines by vehicles, animals and trees etc., and poor maintenance.

Can I be given the results about the efficiency of my septic system?

Yes, all participants will be given a copy of the laboratory results from their own bore and septic  tank assessment.

Are there any costs involved in participating in the program?

No, the program is free and voluntary.

How long will the Program run for?

The program will run from June 2024 – June 2025. 

Who is Eligible to be in the program?

  • You need to have both a bore and septic tank on your property – ideally separated by no more than 50 metres
  • You need to provide signed consent to participate in the program. If you are renting you would need to get the landowner’s consent.
  • Council officers and contractors will need access to the bore and septic tank every two months (approximately six times throughout the Program).
  • Participate in a short pre and post program survey.

Can I be fined if there are any issues identified with my septic tank?

  • If there are any issues identified it simply gives home owners knowledge. What people do with the information is entirely up to them.
  • In some instances, rectifying issues can save people money down the track as if the septic system fails, it can cost many thousands of dollars to install a new tank. Improved maintenance can extend the life of the septic tank system.

How is the best way to find out more information on the Program?

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