New Australian Standard now available for greywater treatment systems

Monday, 14 September, 2009

Standards Australia, in collaboration with the South Australian Environment Protection Authority (SA EPA), has published a new Australian Standard providing the minimum requirements for greywater treatment systems installed on vessels operated on inland waters.

AS 4995 'Greywater treatment systems for vessels operated on inland waters' sets out specifications for the design, construction, installation and operation of onboard greywater treatment systems to minimise the environmental and public health risks caused by untreated greywater discharge.

The Standard was developed to support new greywater management legislation introduced by the South Australian government in 2008 to help reduce potential risks posed by the discharge of greywater into the Murray River and South Australian waterways.

It is estimated that more than 2000 recreational and commercial vessels operate on the Murray River, many discharging untreated greywater directly into the river, damaging the ecosystem, creating algal blooms and contributing to health risks to human and aquatic life.

Greywater is the wastewater from washing, laundering, bathing and showering. It contains dissolved or undissolved by-products such as fats, oils, food scraps, household chemicals, soap and detergent and bacteria and viruses.

Amongst other requirements, the South Australian legislation (Code of Practice for Vessel and Facility Management) introduces the option of managing greywater through the use of treatment systems installed on vessels. AS 4995 has been developed in just 11 months to assist boat builders, manufacturers, vessel owners and operators in complying with this option.

Based on ISO 8099 Small Craft - Toilet waste retention systems and AS 3542 Pleasure Boats - Toilet waste collection, holding and transfer systems, AS 4995 provides an industry benchmark to minimise the development and installation of substandard units that do not meet the requirements of the legislation.

John Tucker, CEO of Standards Australia, said Standards Australia’s work with the SA EPA is one of the first projects to be completed under the organisation’s Collaborative Pathway for standards development, where both parties share funding and resourcing responsibilities.

“This project is a great example of how Standards Australia can work with government, industry and stakeholders to develop a solution that will bring significant benefits to the broader community,” Tucker said.

“New greywater treatment systems built and operated in compliance with AS 4995 will help reduce the negative environmental and public health impacts caused by untreated greywater released into inland waterways such as the River Murray.”

SA EPA Chief Executive Helen Fulcher said the new Standard is an excellent opportunity to use a standardisation process to promote and implement the requirements of the new EPA Code of Practice for Vessel and Facility Management.

"Working with Standards Australia we have created an important new Standard that will deliver real environmental benefits for the River Murray communities and all Australians. The Standard will help greywater treatment system manufacturers develop and install systems that fulfill the requirements of the Code of Practice,” Fulcher said.

“Our officers have commenced promoting the new Standard to River Murray boat users and initial feedback has been very positive.”

The stakeholders represented on Committee WS-037 are:

  • South Australian Environment Protection Authority
  • Department of Transport, Energy and Infrastructure SA
  • Australian Marine Industries Federation
  • Boating Industry Association of SA
  • NSW Maritime Authority
  • South Australian Murray-Darling Basin Natural Resources Management Board
  • Goulburn Murray Water
  • Houseboat Hirers Association SA
  • Murray-Darling Basin Commission

Additional interests include the Department of Health, the government of South Australia and SA Water.

The work undertaken by WS-037 may be adopted as the basis for future Standards for vessels operated on other waterways.

AS 4995 can be purchased from Standards Australia’s distributor SAI Global at

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