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Remember to check your septic tank

Published: 4 March 2019

Wastewater is a vital consideration for our future. Technology is helping create cleaner waterways and beaches, but it’s a combined effort between local government and what we’re doing at home.

When we flush wastewater down the toilet or other drains, it gets carried to a wastewater plant or treated on site, depending where you live. If septic tanks, high-tech and other on-site wastewater systems are leaky or poorly maintained, they allow germ-laden wastewater to seep into streams – and then into our valuable coastal environment and waterways.

There are around 40,000 properties across Auckland with on-site wastewater systems. “Septic tanks and on-site water systems are typically found outside Auckland’s main urban centres,” says Janet Kidd of Auckland Council’s Healthy Waters Department. “An on-site wastewater system needs to work well to treat the sewage properly to prevent people getting sick, and to prevent polluted water from entering the neighbourhood and waterways.”

How to check your septic tank

So how do you know if a septic tank needs maintenance or even replacement? Follow your nose – an odour will be noticeable in the tank and disposal field area. Not all issues are accompanied by a bad smell, so keep an eye out for water ponding on the ground near your system. If your drains are not flowing well, that is another sign. All systems need regular inspection and maintenance so it is important to know the type of system you have and its maintenance requirements.

Greywater recycling

Greywater recycling technology is another way we can protect our precious water resources. These systems reuse water from the bath, shower, bathroom sink and washing machine. Residents can have greywater recycling systems installed that reduce the amount of fresh water used at home.

A good example of how Auckland Transport is incorporating water sustainability practices is the new Manukau Bus Station. The design included a greywater reuse system that harvests rainwater and recycles it back to the building for toilet flushing.

By getting on board with better water-use technology and regularly checking our on-site wastewater systems, we can help keep our neighbourhoods and favourite waterways free of harmful germs this summer.

Find out more

Clean, healthy water is essential to our future. As our region continues to grow and change, we need to look after this precious taonga. Visit to have your say on how we should waterproof our future. Feedback is open until 19 April.


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