The Environmental Management and Pollution Control Act, 1994 (the Act) is the driving force behind wastewater regulation in Tasmania.
As stipulated by the Act, pollution associated with sewage is regulated by both local government (councils) and the EPA. Local governments regulate wastewater treatment activities that treat less than 100 kilolitres (kL) of wastewater per day, on-site treatment systems including septic tanks, and the sewerage reticulation network. Local governments are the primary authority for regulating nuisance issues associated with these activities.
The EPA regulates wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) in Tasmania that treat more than 100 kL of wastewater per day. These are defined by the Act as 'Level 2' treatment plants.
The role of the EPA
The EPA's key activities in relation to Level 2 WWTPs include:
- undertaking assessments in relation to proposals for new WWTPs or significant changes to existing WWTPs;
- developing legally binding environmental conditions for approved WWTPs through planning permits and / or Environment Protection Notices;
- applying Tasmanian policies in relation to water quality management relevant to wastewater activities, and updating environmental conditions where necessary;
- ensuring compliance with environmental conditions through collection and evaluation of data regarding discharges and impacts on the receiving environment;
- investigations into serious environmental pollution offences under the Act or offences associated with breaches of permit conditions relating to wastewater treatment plants.
The EPA helps assess and review wastewater recycling schemes associated with Level 2 WWTPs, but does not directly regulate these activities. It also provides policies and guidelines to help manage wastewater issues such as reuse of treated effluent and biosolids.
The EPA does not regulate discharge of wastewater from industries to sewer. These discharges are managed through the application of trade waste agreements between TasWater and individual industrial operators.
Treatment plant operators in Tasmania
The majority of Level 2 treatment plants in Tasmania are operated by TasWater, following legal reforms that took place in 2008 and 2013 to consolidate ownership and management of wastewater infrastructure. TasWater and the EPA are currently operating under a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), to help streamline regulatory activity and achieve better wastewater quality across the state as quickly as possible.
Level 2 treatment plants are also in place at Lake St Clair and Ben Lomond, operated by the Parks and Wildlife Service, and at Port Arthur, operated by the Port Arthur Historic Site Management Authority. The EPA works with all of these operators to help manage environmental issues relating to the treatment of wastewater.
More information on making a complaint about sewage-related pollution can be found on the
Report Pollution page.