Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems (AWTS) – South East NSW

If your property is not connected to town sewer, you will need an AWTS or a septic tank.

Building in a non-sewered area & need a septic system?

We help people who are not connected to town sewer. Starting with good advice we meet you on site and explain what you can and can’t do. We then manage the whole process from design, product selection, installation and servicing – this is what we do.

Your Development Application (DA) to build or extend your home will require an onsite wastewater management plan. Commonly known as a Geotechnical Report it must be taken into account when designing the site plan for your property. BluenGrey can supply a Geotechnical Report and all the information you will require to support your DA.

What an Aerated Wastewater Treatment System (AWTS) is

An AWTS can be described as a mini treatment plant. It treats all the wastewater that comes from your home. The waste water includes the black water (sewerage from toilets) and the grey water (from kitchen sinks, hand basins, laundry, washing machines, dishwashers, showers and baths).

The wastewater from your house travels through the sewer line into the AWTS tank. The concrete tank is approx 2m deep and 2.5m wide and is installed underground so you only see the lid and control box.

The stars of the system is Bacteria. There are two (2) types that helps break down the wastewater, anaerobic and aerobic bacteria. After being processed through several chambers the treated wastewater is then irrigated across the designated disposal area (as per Geotechnical Report) through a variety of methods, from sub surface and surface spray irrigation to underground trenches.

How Aerated Waste Water Treatment Systems work

Wastewater from a household is treated in stages within an underground concrete tank.

Our recommended AWTS or Septic Tank will vary depending on your property and DA requirements.

All our recommended AWTSs and Septic Tanks are accredited by NSW Health and meet Australian Design Standards.

For example, our single concrete AWTS UltraClear tank is a modern design and extremely well built by the industries most experienced AWTS engineer. Built in South East NSW it provides long term reliability, clean water, low running costs and ease of servicing and maintenance.

Key features:
  • Fully automatic operation and no customer intervention required.
  • Peace of mind with 24 hour monitoring alarm
  • Better for the environment. Large media modules in aeration chambers for high bacteria activity resulting in low nitrogen output and cleaner water.
  • Quiet and low power operation.
  • It is a one tank system. Reliable and easy to maintain.
  • Our concrete tanks are designed to last with a 15 year warranty

We service all brands of AWTS

Under the NSW Health Act, local councils require an Aerated Wastewater Treatment System (AWTS) to be serviced by an approved agent (such as BluenGrey) every 3 months.

We service all brands of AWTS including:

  • Biocycle
  • Bioseptic
  • Econocycle
  • Envirocycle
  • FujiClean
  • Garden Master
  • Taylex
  • Supertreat
  • Ultraclear
  • And all other brands

BluenGrey can provide experienced and qualified technicians to perform servicing and repair of all AWTSs. We are well equipped to respond to breakdowns and repairs. Our fleet of service vehicles carry the necessary spare parts and equipment for all systems to be repaired on the spot removing the risk of system blockage.

If you are unsure about the servicing of your system or have recently purchased a property with an AWTS, please contact us to arrange a service to check that everything is working.

Our Emergency Response Service means a Service Technician is on site within no time at all.

Application and installation steps

BluenGrey helps customers with all the steps required to get their Development Application (DA) approved for their on site waste water management plan.

From design, to install and servicing, we can help with you with your wastewater and septic tank systems. 

The application and installation steps are usually:

Step 1 – Site Evaluation: BluenGrey will meet you at your property to discuss your options for on site waste water management. Complete the Application Form for Approval to Install/Operate an On-Site Sewage Management System Form. This will need to accompany the DA that you submit to Council.

Step 2 – Geotechnical Report: You may need a Geotechnical Report to support your DA, this can depend on the site and your local Council requirements. This report provides information on soil type, suitable irrigation and size of irrigation area required for your property.

Step 3: On-Site Waste Water Management Plan Application: Your Local Council will provide you with an Application Form for Approval to Install/Operate an On-Site Sewage Management System Form. This will need to accompany the DA that you submit to Council. We can provide you with the information required to complete this form to make the process easier.

Step 4: Installation: Once Council approval is granted, and you have your Construction Certificate (CC), BluenGrey can organise all aspects of the installation, including tank delivery and excavation. We can liaise with your builder as required to ensure an easy, trouble-installation of your waste water septic system.

Step 5: First Quarterly Service: Your first service is 3 months after you have started using your AWTS. At this service, the technician can provide you with an overview of how the system works, the irrigation, and what is covered in a typical service.

For any questions, regarding your AWTS always contact BluenGrey by calling 1300 764 558, emailing service@bluengrey.com.au or send us a message.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an AWTS?
AWTS stands for Aerated Wastewater Treatment System. Typically a 10,000 litre concrete tank installed under ground. A mini sewer treatment plant based on bacteria treating wastewater.  Sewage and liquid wastes flows through a series of treatment chambers combined with a on site wastewater disposal method like sub surface irrigation.

An AWTS enables people living in unsewered areas to treat wastewater and dispose of it on site with out the ongoing costs of a septic pump out.

How does an AWTS work?
Wastewater from a household is treated in stages via separate chambers within a single tank. The first and second chambers are similar to a conventional septic tank. The wastewater enters the chamber where the solids settle to the bottom. A crust forms at the top, liquid in the middle and sludge accumulates at the bottom. The wastewater flows into an aeration chamber which stimulates the bacteria to further break down the wastewater (Anaerobic).

In the forth chamber, additional clarification takes place as the solids settle, which are returned for further treatment to the septic chamber. The clarified effluent is disinfected in another chamber (usually by chlorination) before automatically being pumped out of the irrigation chamber to the disposal area.

Learn more and see a visual guide to how an AWTS works

How much power do the systems use?
Power usage is largely dependant on the amount of water that flows into the system. Estimated power usage for a four (4) person household with average wastewater flows is about $180 per annum.
What type of irrigation can I have?
This will depend on the Geotechnical Report and council. The soil on the site will largely determine the size and type of irrigation you can use.

This information will be in your geotechnical report for your property, it will specify the disposal area. This is the area of your yard that is designated for the wastewater system, including your irrigation.

From an AWTS there are mainly two types of irrigation:

  • Surface Spray Irrigation – these are surface sprays spread across the area with about a 4m diameter per sprinkler. Minimum 4 sprinklers required.
  • Subsurface Irrigation – this is effluent grade poly pipe that is buried under the ground in a grid like pattern at 1m intervals with drip emitters spaced evenly to allow a predetermined amount of wastewater to be released.
Can the irrigation from the AWTS be used to water vegetables and fruit?
NSW Health and local council do not suggested that effluent is used to water fruit or vegetables.
How often does an AWTS need servicing?
It is a requirement under the NSW Health Act that all AWTS must be serviced every 3 months. Servicing and maintenance of AWTS and Septic tanks is managed and monitored by your local council. BluenGrey as an accredited service business. We maintain a customer database and email each service report to your local council after every service.
What does a service of my AWTS include?
It is a requirement under NSW Health Law an local councils that your AWTS is serviced every three (3) months by an accredited service provider.

Your BluenGrey Service includes the following;
1. Respect your property and follow OH&S guidelines.
2. Check for electrical safety and if control box and alarm is working at the tank.
3. Check aeration, irrigation and sludge (if fitted) pumps are working.
4. Clean aeration and clarification filters
5. Adjust and operate sludge return as required.
6. Measure sludge accumulation in septic chamber to see if pump out is needed.
7. Check inlet and chamber junctions are clear and report on septic chamber crust.
8. Test Ph, free chlorine levels and replenish chlorine as required (up to 6 tablets).
9. Report on status of irrigation area.
10. If fitted and accessible clean irrigation filters.
11. Make comments and recommendations for any additional work that may be required.

  • Once completed we will provide you with a written or emailed service report and send it to your local council

In addition to servicing, we will:

  • Text you to let you know when your service is due
  • Advise you of any additional work that is or may be required

Note the following work is not included in our servicing fee:

  • Repairs and installation of any irrigation parts or sprinklers.
  • Emergency call outs for any failure or breakdown
  • Parts and labour for any repairs and/or additions or modifications to any part of the system
  • Cleaning out of any tank or compartment
  • Pump outs
  • Aeration and Irrigation Pump Replacement
Does an AWTS need to be pumped out?
Yes, an AWTS needs to be pumped out every 3 – 5 years to remove accumulated sludge from the bottom of the tank.

As an owner of an AWTS, you are responsible for pump out cost which may include a pump out truck fee, council fees, water delivery and additional labour to clean the chambers and remove the lid (old BioCycle require lids to be removed).

This cost is not included on the usual servicing fee.

How do I maintain my AWTS?
The effectiveness of the system will largely depend on how it is used and maintained. Here are some pointers on how to maintain your AWTS:

  • Have your AWTS inspected and serviced 4 times a year
  • Check that your irrigation lines are clear and your sprinklers are working
  • If you have sub surface irrigation, clean irrigation filters at least monthly
  • Have your system service include assessment of sludge levels, and performance of irrigation areas
  • Have a pump out at least every 3-5 years
  • Have your disinfection chamber inspected and tested quarterly to ensure correct disinfectant levels
  • Use biodegradable liquid detergents such as concentrates with low sodium and phosphorus levels
  • Conserve water
  • Refer to BluenGrey Do’s & Don’ts
What happens if an AWTS is not correctly maintained?
A poorly maintained AWTS can cause:

  • Environmental impact and damage to water ways.
  • Council to fine you.
  • Toilets to block and back up
  • Smells and odours
  • Raw effluent to overflow from the tank
  • Water pollution
  • Attract disease carrying vermin and insects
  • Potential health risks
What if something goes wrong?
If the alarm lights are active, there is a bad smell or the tanks are overflowing, contact us immediately at 1300 764 558.
Why does my AWTS smell?
Your AWTS may smell because:

  • The air blower may not be working or not working to its full capacity. If there is a problem, please ring BluenGrey on 1300 764 558
  • Anti bacterial products or medication may have been used that kills the bacteria in the system. These products may include bleach and other anti bacterial agents.
  • The overuse of water (for example too much washing over s short period of time) will impact your system
  • A high sludge level means the tank is overdue to be pumped out and cleaned
What do I do if the alarm goes off?
The alarm panel is normally located inside the house. If the system malfunctions, the alarm will sound and either the “Air” or “Water” light will illuminate. If the alarm goes off, press the mute button and call BluenGrey on 1300 764 558.
What do I do if the low air alarm is on (Green)?
  • Press the mute button, the alarm will reset in 24 hours
  • Check the air blower to see if its working (if you stand next to the box on top of your tank you should be able to hear the air blower humming)
  • If the air blower does not appear to be functioning correctly, phone BluenGrey on 1300 764 558 as it may need to be repaired or replaced
What do I do if the High Water Alarm (Red) is on?
  • Press the mute button, the alarm will reset in 24 hours.
  • Check your irrigation line for any kinks, especially if you have been mowing or if yard work has been done
  • If a filter is installed, ensure that it is clean and not blocked
  • Check your sprinkler outlets for any blockages and clear if necessary
  • A high water alarm can indicate pump failure or blocked irrigation (this is where the water can not escape quick enough)
  • Please call BluenGrey on 1300 764 558
What can happen to my AWTS after a black out or electrical storm?
After power blackouts or electrical storms, it is advisable to check the meter box to ensure all circuit breakers are on.

  • If the power supply to the AWTS fails, the light will flash briefly every 3 seconds, and the alarm will give a brief beep in sequence with the light. This beep can be muted for 24 hours
  • The back up battery will keep the alarm panel powered between 2 – 14 days depending on the state of its charge before power failure. It is automatically recharged when the power is restored to the AWTS
  • Contact BluenGrey on 1300 764 558 if you hear the alarm or your system is not working

Note that all electrical wiring from the system to the meter box and the alarm panel is the responsibility of the electrician, and is not covered by our warranty.

What is a control box?
A control box provides power to the aeration and irrigation pumps, it monitors the aeration pump and emits an alarm if a high water level is detected, it is fitted with a rechargeable backup battery.

The alarm plate has three LEDs:

  • Under normal operating conditions, the green power LED will be lit
  • A high water alarm will activate the red water LED and the audible alarm will sound to attract attention
  • If the air blower fails the red air LED will be activated and the audible alarm will sound to attract attention

If either of the red “Air” or “Water” LEDs are activated, or an alarm is heard, contact BluenGrey on 1300 764 558.

What are some of the other warning signs that there may be problems with the system?
Here are some other warning signs that you can keep an eye out for.

  • No water comes out of the sprinklers
  • Drain pipes that gurgle or make noises when air bubbles are forced back into the system
  • Sewage smells, this indicates a serious problem
  • Water backing up into your sink which may indicate that your system is blocked or flooded
  • Excess noise (or no noise) from the blower or pumping equipment
  • Black coloured effluent in the irrifation area

Please contact BluenGrey for more information.

What products can't I use in an AWTS?
The following products should not be used in an AWTS:

  • Any products that are anti bacterial
  • Don’t put bleaches, disinfectants, whiteners, nappy soakers, spot removers or eucalyptus oil into your AWTS via the sink, washing machine or toilet
  • Don’t allow any foreign materials such as nappies, sanitary napkins, condoms, wipes, paper towels, cigarette butts, cat litter, coffee grounds or other hygiene products to enter the system
  • Don’t use more than the recommended amount of detergent
  • Don’t put fats and oils down the drain and keep food out of the system
  • Don’t wash paint brushes or pour other chemicals in the sink
  • After mopping the floor, don’t pour the bucket of water (with Pine o Clean or other disinfectant/cleaner) down the drain. Empty the bucket out on the grass instead
  • Don’t use “Toilet Blue” or toilet deodorisers that hang in the bowl. These add a continual low dose of disinfectant to the bowl
  • Avoid fabric softeners as they coat the bacteria and prevent effective treatment of the wastewater

See our handy reference guide and FREE printable sheet for Septic System DOs and DON’Ts.

Do you have an information sheet on what products I can use?
Yes, please see our handy reference guide and FREE printable sheet of Septic System DOs and DON’Ts. Print this sheet out and put it in a place it can be easily seen.
Can I overload the AWTS?
Yes, you can overload your AWTS by doing too much washing at one time. By selecting the proper load size, you reduce water waste. Overloading may result in wastewater backing up into your house, contamination of your yard with improperly treated effluent, and effluent from your system entering a nearby river, creek or dam.

Conservative water use around the house will reduce the amount of wastewater which is produced and needs to be treated.

Your AWTS is also unable to cope with large volumes of water such as several showers or loads of washing over a short period of time. You should try to avoid these “shock loads” by ensuring water use is spread more evenly throughout the day and week.

Why does my tank need to be filled with water after a pump out?
It is really important that the AWTS be filled with water after it is pumped out to prevent damage to the system. When the tank is not filled with water, there is a risk that it may float out of the hole and the barrier separating the chamber is not supported.

Additionally, the water must be at operational level to avoid solids entering the secondary septic chamber and aeration pump covered with water.

Can I turn the system off if I am going on holidays or not using the property?
No, even if you are not using the system, do not turn it off as this will reduce the bacteria needed for the system to work properly.
Can I lift the lid on the AWTS to check if it is working?
To ensure that the system is not damaged, and for your own safety, BluenGrey asks that AWTS owners do not remove the lid or manhole.
How do you know if the trench has failed?
You can tell if the trench has failed because the area will be soggy, smelly, and covered with lush vegetation. The tank and the toilets may back up and not drain properly.
What happens if the property is sold?
To enable correct servicing records and procedures to be maintained, could you please advise us if you sell the property.

Rod's expertise is exceptional

We would like to thank Rod for all his guidance and patience while we were investigating water and sewerage systems, and asking a myriad of questions. We had never built before and knew nothing about what we needed for water and sewerage, so Rod was a fountain of knowledge. His expertise has been exceptional. Both the water tank and the sewerage system were installed hassle-free and passed Council inspection without any issues. We look forward to an ongoing relationship with Rod when he visits to do the necessary checks and balances of our sewerage system. 

– Melissa and Scott Jobson, Tapitallee

BluenGrey are a great ‘one stop shop’ service at competitive prices

Having made the decision to move to a semi-rural property at Yass we investigated options for our grey and rain water requirements. We approached BluenGrey who provided a range of options for us to select from. Their personal and professional approach, which included on-site meetings, ultimately led us to choose to proceed with BluenGrey who offered a ‘one stop shop’ service at competitive prices. The installation was trouble free and their follow-on service and advice has been excellent. We are completely satisfied with the BluenGrey services and have no hesitation in recommending them to future customers."

– Col and Anne Eade 

BluenGrey were very helpful in every respect

 From our initial conversations through to final installation BluenGrey were very helpful in every respect, and courteous and obliging with regards to my requirements. Work commenced on time as planned with pictures texted through to us during the installation showing progress. All in all job a well done with zero issues. I would recommend BluenGrey to anyone considering waste disposal units and / or rainwater tanks.

– Steven Hawke, Longbeach

I can't recommend BluenGrey highly enough

BluenGrey are an absolute pleasure to deal with. Their Service Technicians are always professional and reliable, and I like to know that our wastewater system is looked after so we're always meeting our Council's regulations. I feel reassured knowing I can call on them should I have any worries about our system, and especially that they can respond to emergencies.

– Emma, Shoalhaven

About BluenGrey

Since 1986, BluenGrey (formerly known as Garden Master & Rain King) has specialised in wastewater, rain tank and water pump sales.

BluenGrey serves the South East NSW region including the Eurobodalla, Shoalhaven, Palerang, South Coast, Far South Coast, ACT and surrounds. Our team of Service Technicians are located across South East NSW for local, reliable and professional service.