Tea Tree Gully CWMS

Tea Tree Gully CWMS

Last update: December 2022

Building Tea Tree Gully’s new sustainable sewerage system

Between 2022 and 2028, we will be transitioning all customers on the Tea Tree Gully Community Wastewater Management System (CWMS) to a new modern sewerage system.

Discover all you need to know about the Tea Tree Gully Sustainable Sewers project on our Water Talks page.

Managing the Tea Tree Gully Community Waste Management System

On 1 July 2022, we took ownership of the Tea Tree Gully Community Wastewater Management System (CWMS), including management, operation and maintenance.

We’re pleased to welcome all users of the CWMS as our sewerage customers.

If you have any questions about your sewerage service or bill – or need to report a fault with your sewerage service – please call our dedicated Tea Tree Gully CWMS customer hotline on 1800 657 337.

About the CWMS

Around 4,700 properties in the City of Tea Tree Gully are not connected to our sewerage system. Instead, they are on a septic tank system serviced by the Community Wastewater Management System (CWMS), previously operated by the City of Tea Tree Gully.

Between 1 July 2022 and 2028, all customers on the CWMS are being transferred to a modern sewer system delivering nationally accepted level of service. For more information on our Tea Tree Gully Sustainable Sewers project, visit our Water Talks page.

The CWMS network is made up of more than 117 kilometres of sewer pipes in the City of Tea Tree Gully.

Household waste from toilets, kitchens, bathrooms and laundries enters the septic tank on each property connected to the CWMS, where solids settle to the bottom of the tank.  Liquid waste then flows into the CWMS network and into one of our sewer mains or an approved treatment facility.

To ensure they operate efficiently, we manage the routine cleaning of sludge from septic tanks about every four years.

Reporting a fault

We are responsible for the maintenance and repair of our infrastructure while the property owner is responsible for maintenance and repairs from the connection point to the septic tank.

If you believe there is a fault with our sewer, or you are not sure where the problem lies, please contact us on 1800 657 337.

If there is a fault on your property or with your septic tank, you will need to contact a licenced plumber.

Your sewerage bill
As a sewerage customer of SA Water, you will see an additional charge on your water bill. This charge will be included in the amount due indicated on the front page of your bill with details on page two.

Fees for sewerage services are based on property values determined by the Valuer-General and are charged at 16.52 cents per $1000.

For example:

If your property is valued at:You will pay:
$400,000$75.85 per quarter (minimum quarterly charge)
$600,000$99 per quarter
$850,000$140 per quarter

Standard Customer Contract

Our Standard Customer Contract document outlines the details and obligations of the contract between SA Water and its customers.

Frequently Asked Questions

What does CWMS stand for?

Community Waste Management System

How often is my septic tank emptied?

Septic tanks are emptied about once every four years. We will manage the emptying of your tank for you. If you believe that the tank requires urgent attention, please call us on 1800 657 337.

My tank or inspection point is overflowing

If sewage is overflowing from your septic tank or the inspection point, call us on 1800 657 337. If sewage is overflowing in your home, you may have a blocked pipe and will need to contact a plumber.

Who is responsible for the tank?

The property owner is responsible for the tank, we are responsible from the connection point to the main infrastructure out on the road.

What can I use to clean my toilet if I’m on septic?

Disinfectants and chemicals are not suitable for septic tanks. Natural cleaning product must be used, such as a mix of vinegar and bi carb soda. Most supermarkets and large hardware stores also offer septic tank safe products.

Where are my tank and inspection points located?

If you are unable to locate your tank or inspection point, please call us on 1800 657 337.

There is a bad odour in my back yard, what can I do?

Please call us on 1800 657 337 and we will arrange for someone to inspect.

Do I need to be home when you attend?

You do not need to be home when we attend your property, however, please ensure we can access your septic tank by unlocking gates and keeping pets inside.

The tank lid was damaged on emptying, who fixes or pays for it?

Please call our contractor, Veolia, on 8398 2484 to fix or replace the lid.

How do I raise the tank lid and who can perform the work, how much does it cost?

The property owner is responsible for raising the tank lid and associated costs. You will need to employ a licenced contractor for this work. You can let the contractor know the lid is approximately 750mm x 450mm.

I am not able to expose the lid, can this be done for me?

Our contractor, VEOLIA, can expose the lid for you, but there will be a cost.

Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs?

We are responsible for the maintenance and repair of our infrastructure while the property owner is responsible for maintenance and repairs to the septic tank and inspection point.

I have just moved into my new home, does it have a septic tank?

If your property is located in one of the coloured areas of this map, then you are likely to have a septic tank. If you are still uncertain, call us on 1800 657 337 with your details and we can let you know.

I have to expose the lid to get my tank emptied but I can’t afford to pay for this service as I am a pensioner

Ask a family member or friend if they can assist you. If not, contact the contractor, Veolia, on 8398 2484 and ask about a fee reduction for pension card holders.

When will my property be connected to mains?

Please see our Project Delivery Stages map to locate your property and estimated upgrade delivery dates.

What do I do if I see a sewer leak in the street?

Call us on 1800 657 337.

What happens if I need urgent assistance on weekends?

Call us on 1800 657 337

Can I build over a septic tank or plant vegetation?

Do not build over a septic tank as it inhibits access. Avoid planting trees or shrubs near your septic tank as roots can damage the tank and cause blockages.

Plumbing and Maintenance

Septic systems

Septic systems treat and dispose of wastewater from toilets, bathrooms, laundries and kitchens. Simple care and maintenance of the septic system can prevent contamination to the environment and protect family health and safety.

A septic system is made up of various components including:

  • Septic tank
  • Internal drains
  • Tail pipe
  • CWMS main and connection point.

Septic tanks

A septic tank is an underground watertight tank made from either concrete or plastic. Septic tanks are usually located within the boundary of a property.

Wastewater from toilets, laundry, bathrooms and kitchen is gravity fed into the septic tank for treatment where the liquid and solid portions of the waste are separated.

The solids settle to the bottom of the tank where naturally occurring bacteria convert the material into sludge. The remaining liquid passes out of the septic tank, through the system’s outlet drain and into the Community Wastewater Management System (CWMS).

Access lid

Septic tanks require a lid to provide access for cleaning and pumping out.

A licensed contractor will be organised by SA Water to pump your septic tank every four years. Our contractors are licensed by the EPA to remove, transport and dispose of the waste.

If your septic tank is working well, you should not need to open your septic tank. If you are required to open the access lid, please take care as wastewater can produce harmful gases.

It is a requirement that all new septic tanks have their access lid raised to ground level. This must not be covered by anything that cannot be quickly and easily removed.

Older septic tanks may not have their access lid at ground level. For ease of access, it is recommended that home owners engage a contractor to raise the access lid.

Inspection point

The inspection points (IPs), located on the inlet and outlet drain of a septic tank, enable access to the sanitary drain to clear any potential blockages.

A licensed plumber can assist in clearing these blockages if they occur.

If you do not have visible IPs at these points, consider speaking to a licensed plumber about raising them to ground level. You will need additional Council development approval to complete CWMS development work.

Connection point

The connection point is where wastewater enters the CWMS. The connection point must not be covered as we may need to access it from time to time.

Any maintenance of the CWMS drain from the connection point is our responsibility, while any maintenance from the connection point up to and including the household drain is the responsibility of the property owner - see figure 1 below.


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Figure 1: Diagram illustrating our responsibility and the property owner’s responsibility.

Please note, if you wish to raise the ground level of your property, for example when building a retaining wall or building a garden bed, please call us on 1800 657 337 to discuss.

If approved, you will be required to pay for the connection point to be correctly positioned at the new ground level.

The photos below are examples of what a connection point may look like when it is raised to ground level.

cwms figure 2 flow

Maintaining a septic system

Maintaining a septic tank and its associated drains is important because it will save time and money, and help protect the health of your family.

Damaged drains should be repaired quickly to help prevent reoccurring blockages. SA Health’s fact sheet has some valuable information regarding maintenance of your system.

Septic tank pumps

Whenever possible, a septic tank system should be designed with sufficient grade on the drains so that wastewater can flow to the CWMS by gravity.

A pump system may need to be installed when there is insufficient fall for the wastewater to flow from the septic tank to the connection point. Please note, approval is required to pump wastewater into the CWMS network.

Replacing a septic tank

As your tank ages, it may need to be replaced. Replacement of a septic tank requires  approval from Council.

The septic tank must be on SA Health's list of approved products. The septic tank and all other plumbing must be installed by a licensed plumber.

Stormwater into CWMS

It is important to ensure rainwater and stormwater don’t enter the CWMS as the network can become seriously overloaded during and after rain events.

When the CWMS is overloaded, septic tanks cannot efficiently drain into the network and this appears as though the drain is blocked. In extreme cases, the CWMS may overflow creating an environmental hazard.

Connecting to the CWMS – things to consider

The Tea Tree Gully Sustainable Sewers Program will transition all properties connected to the Community Wastewater Management System (CWMS) to a modern sewer system that delivers nationally accepted levels of service for its customers.

CWMS customers will be transitioned in stages, with prioritisation based on a range of criteria including condition assessment of the existing CWMS and community feedback.

As a result, there are three separate stages for implementation of the upgrades between 2022 and 2028. The timing of when your property is due for conversion could assist with your decision making on your future development plans.

Connecting a new wastewater service

For detailed information on subdividing land, visit SA.GOV.AU - Subdividing land (www.sa.gov.au).

Land and Subdivision applications are requested through Land Services SA. Visit Land & Subdivision | Land Services SA.

If you are considering subdividing land or connecting a vacant block in the City of Tea Tree Gully, you will need to consider the following points:

  • Not every land parcel in the City of Tea Tree Gully is connected, or able to be connected, to the CWMS. When applying for your land division, you will need to investigate wastewater options available for the property.
  • If the land can be connected to the existing CWMS, an investigation will need to be carried out when you lodge your land division application to determine available options.

Customers currently on the CWMS are being connected to a modern sewer system. All CWMS customers currently have a septic tank. The process of transitioning customers from the CWMS to an SA Water sewer main includes installing new wastewater mains in the road (in most cases) and connecting customers to the new system with gravity connections or low-pressure sewer pump connections.

All new allotments require either a CWMS or sewer connection depending on what is available and what is approved onsite. You do not have to wait for the new sewer to be installed before you develop, however we cannot connect properties to the new sewer system before it’s available in your area.

If you wish to connect a property not currently abutting the CWMS, you will need to wait for the sewer conversion to occur before extending pipework to service the property.

If you would like to know more information about your property being connected to our modern sewer network, please contact us on 1800 657 337.

Building with CWMS/septic tanks – what you need to know

If your property is scheduled to connect to the modern sewer system but you intend to build before the scheduled time, you will need a septic tank connected to the CWMS your property already abuts.

To minimise future impacts to your development and/or property please ensure the following when planning your connection to the CWMS:

  • Install a septic tank in the front yard of the property.
  • Locate septic tanks a minimum of 2.5 metres away from side and one metre from front boundary.
  • If the septic cannot be located at the front of the property,side access entry width of 1.5 metres is required to enable service personnel access to the rear yard for maintenance and construction.
  • We recommend constructing side access to your property with something that can be lifted and re-laid e.g. pavers.

Septic tanks and building prior to your transition timeframe

To apply for the installation of a septic tank, please contact the City of Tea Tree Gully Council who will advise you of the process for your private infrastructure. This process also requires application and payment to SA Water for connecting to the CWMS system.

For further information, please visit the following link Home | City of Tea Tree Gully.

Connection process and fees

All properties connected to the CWMS at the time the Sustainable Sewers Upgrade Program was announced will receive one free connection when the network is upgraded in your area (see map). We are unable to bring installation forward for individual customers.

If you are subdividing your property or would like to connect an existing property
If you are creating additional connection/s through subdivision, you will need to pay for all new connections as per the usual process. To connect a new service to the network, please follow the normal application and fee process. This connection application can be lodged via the SA Water website or by your surveyor if you are subdividing.

If you do not currently have a wastewater service on your property but would like one, please follow the normal application and fee process on the SA Water Website.

If your property has a pipeline available (new sewer or CWMS) we will assess and provide connection advice.

If you are in a CWMS area and you do not have a pipe on your property boundary, you will need to wait until sewer is installed to extend and service your property.  

Fee variations
If conditions exist that will make construction difficult (such as existing services within the construction path, underground water, rocks, tree roots or requirements for traffic management), the connection will be deemed non-standard and you will need to pay associated construction costs. All CWMS connections are non-standard, and are quoted on a case-by-case basis.

If you receive a desktop cost estimate before submitting an application, the cost may be varied when the final invoice is issued. The process to design your new connection after you submit an application involves a site visit is to understand the construction conditions and better inform the design of the connection.

To apply for a new connection via Connections Services, refer to the link on our SA Water website SAWater - Connect to a new service and search under ‘Connect to a new service’.


We require access to CWMS mains and septic tanks within properties to ensure safe operation and maintenance of the network. For further information regarding easements please visit the SA Water easement webpage.

Some developments may require new easements over the existing CWMS pipework or over new sewer mains placed on private property.

It is important that access be maintained and unrestricted to ensure easy access into, over or under the easements at all times.

Things to remember about the CWMS  

The CWMS will be decommissioned in a staged approach as part of the Tea Tree Gully Sustainable Sewers program. Please do not damage or destroy any existing CWMS main pipe or infrastructure as it may still be conveying waste from other properties in the network.

If you would like to build a structure or undertake works adjacent to or over the CWMS pipework on your property, please contact us 1300 884 037. Further information can be found on our Easement fact sheet.

  • Major faults

  • Underway

  • Polkinghorns Rd
  • Arthurton
  • 18/06/2020
  • Water Supply On
  • 18/06/2020 03:05 PM - We are attending to an incident in Arthurton with no interruption to the water supply. The safety of our crews and customers comes first, and we always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as quickly as we can. Reference Number WO: 07505663.
  • See all major faults

  • Scheduled works

  • Underway
  • Spruance Rd
  • Elizabeth East
  • 11/06/2021
  • Temporary Supply Interruption
  • Estimated start time and water supply off: 15/06/2021 09:00 AM
    Estimated restore time and water supply back on: 15/06/2021 04:00 PM

    We’re improving your services and undertaking maintenance work in Elizabeth East. Sometimes our crews need to temporarily interrupt the water supply to our customers and/or manage traffic while they are working. Temporary traffic management may remain in place until reinstatement of the impacted road is complete. We always aim to minimise inconvenience by restoring services as safely and quickly as we can.

  • See all scheduled works