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Requirements for maintenance and assessment of on-board sewage treatment systems

It is a legal requirement for the owner and master of a ship fitted with a sewage treatment system, to ensure that the treatment system is assessed and maintained at the required intervals (as outlined below). All documentation about the system must be retained on-board the ship and readily available for inspection.

Section 43 of the Transport Operations (Marine Pollution) Regulation 2018 (TOMPR) requires the owner and master of a ship fitted with a sewage treatment system operating in Queensland's coastal waters, to ensure that the treatment system is:

  • maintained, at least, at the intervals and in the way required by the system service manual for the treatment system
  • assessed by analysing sewage after it has been treated in the treatment system, by an independent testing entity#, to ensure that it continues to treat the sewage to the levels for the grade of treated sewage stated in schedule 5 of TOMPR
    • the sample used for assessment must not be diluted after it has been treated in the treatment system
    • the assessments must be undertaken at the following intervals after the sewage treatment system has been fitted to the ship:
      1. for declared ships*:
        • at least annually for the first 2 years 
        • afterwards, at least every 2 years.
      2. for all other ships (other than declared ships):
        • at least once in the first 5 years 
        • afterwards, at least every 2 years.

# An independent testing entity is an entity that is accredited by the National Association of Testing Authorities as competent to perform the analyses required for Grade A, Grade B or Grade C treated sewage and performs such analyses in Australia.

* Declared ships have a fixed toilet, and are:

  • domestic commercial vessels with a certificate of operation issued, or taken to be issued, under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 stating it is a class 1B, 1C, 1D, 1E, 4C, 4D or 4E ship; or
  • other Queensland regulated ships regulated under the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994 and Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation 2016 designed to carry more than 12 passengers. 

Ships other than declared ships are all other ships, and include:

  • all recreational ships
  • domestic commercial vessels with a certificate of operation issued, or taken to be issued, under the Marine Safety (Domestic Commercial Vessel) National Law Act 2012 stating it is a class 2 or 3
  • other Queensland regulated ships regulated under the Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Act 1994 and Transport Operations (Marine Safety) Regulation 2016 designed to carry up to 12 passengers.

Owners and masters should be aware that sewage from a treatment system that fails an assessment is classed as untreated sewage and therefore must be discharged in accordance with untreated sewage discharge requirements. This must be incorporated into the shipboard sewage management plan of any declared ship that does not carry a current assessment report showing that the system has passed the necessary requirements.

Maritime Safety Queensland has developed procedural guidelines to assist owners and masters of ships to meet the assessment requirements in a uniform and efficient manner. The guideline document and assessment report templates are available below.

Last updated
10 September 2018