PUBLIC WARNING Warning about installation and maintenance of on-site sewage facilities and the failure of such systems

28 August 2020

This warning is issued by the Commissioner of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) to the public under section 20J 1(i) of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991.

The QBCC issues this public warning about the installation and maintenance of on-site sewage facilities (OSSFs) due to the public health and safety impacts of failing OSSFs. 

OSSFs are generally installed on residential properties in un-sewered areas to treat the sewage generated from the property. Poorly designed, installed and maintained wastewater treatment systems can endanger the health of users, their neighbours, wildlife, domestic animals, the environment and drinking water sources. Effective treatment of sewage protects public health and safety, and ensures that the environment and community amenity are maintained or enhanced.

Advice provided by local governments in South East Queensland and studies undertaken by universities and other organisations indicate that there is a high failure rate of OSSF across their jurisdictions. A high failure rate of these systems presents a significant risk to public health and safety and the environment.

OSSFs require regular scheduled maintenance by properly licensed entities to ensure the ongoing health and safety of those in the immediate area. Failure can become apparent in different forms, including:

  • Hydraulic failure: a visible failure leading to leaks, pooling or boggy soils
  • Operational or maintenance failure: mechanical breakdown, damage to the system or its components, or a failure to maintain the system as required; and
  • Compliance failure: a facility which has not been designed, installed or maintained in accordance with required codes or standards.

Ensure you engage appropriately licensed contractors with licensed workers to perform installation or maintenance work on OSSFs in Queensland. Further information about when a contractor licence is required for on-site sewage work is available from the QBCC website. If you are concerned about the installation or maintenance of your system, please contact your local government to seek advice.

If you are in doubt about whether the entity you are contracting with holds the correct licence to do the work, you can conduct a free online licence search at www.qbcc.qld.gov.au or contact the QBCC on 139 333.

Contact: 

Contact:139 333