Waiheke Waterways

Let's care for our waterways...

Waiheke Waterways works with the community to restore our awa (streams), connecting people to their local waterways across the Little Oneroa, Ōmiha, Palm Beach and Onetangi catchments.
In particular, we support the community to manage their onsite wastewater systems properly and train as citizen scientists who monitor the health of local catchments using the Wai Care framework. This mahi is supported by the Waiheke Local Board and Auckland Council’s Wai Ora programme.

Everyday actions you can take

septic tank exposed under the ground

Use septic friendly products

Not all products on supermarket shelves are safe to use. Anti-bacterial cleaners, bleach and harsh chemical disinfectants can kill the good microorganisms in your septic system. This can cause system failures that are expensive both financially and for the environment.

Waiheke Waterways recommends products from brands such as Bio-Zyme, ecostore and Earthwise which are certifiably septic tank friendly, or alternative cleaning products such as vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

washing machine

Minimise your water usage

Not only does reducing your water consumption mean less worry during the summer, it’s also good for your septic system. Conserving water and spreading out your water use helps to keep the solids settled down in the sludge layer of your system, which is essential for primary treatment.

Waiheke Waterways recommends installing water restrictors, using grey water in the garden, taking 2-minute showers, and upgrading to washing machines, dishwashers, toilets and showers with 5-star water ratings when it’s time to say goodbye to your old ones.

duck with ducklings following behind

Be mindful of where that poo is going

Pick up after your dog: Dog poo carries E. coli and other bacteria that makes people sick, so we don't want it washing into our waterways.

Don't feed the ducks: Ducks breed to the amount of food available. Lots of food means lots of ducklings, and because ducks poo directly into the water, they can have a significant effect on water quality and E. coli levels. (Also, bread is not nutritious food for ducks).

Care for your onsite wastewater system

Regular maintenance (hi-tech systems need a maintenance contract and frequent servicing) and a pump out every three years will ensure your system is working effectively.

How we can help

The unveiling of the Septic Tank

Free workshops

We run free septic tank care workshops for the community every year. These are informative and interactive sessions with the Waiheke Waterways project lead and guest speakers. The workshop includes a presentation on keeping your septic tank healthy and running efficiently, info about legal obligations, and a Q&A.

Check the calendar
septic tank subsidy

Septic tank check subsidies

Properties across Waiheke Island can access a $50 discount on their septic tank check, thanks to Waiheke Local Board and Greenacres Waiheke.

The check can be used to show compliance under the Auckland Unitary Plan for primary systems, and as a health check for secondary and tertiary systems. During the check service, providers can unblock drains, assess drainage fields, clean filters, purge lines, sludge measurements, and assess system health and troubleshoot.

Book your check

Local help

We have a list of local experts that you can get in touch with if your septic system is causing issues or you need to book in a consultation, pump out or wastewater servicing.

Don't hesitate to contact them if you have any concerns - remember that a healthy septic tank means happy neighbours!

See the list

Know your system

Primary septic systems

A primary treatment system is, most often, a septic tank. A septic tank has an anaerobic bacterial environment that settles solids and digests them over time. The digested solids build up to form a sludge and scum layer which eventually needs removing (if the tank is working properly) to maintain enough capacity for settling.

(The treated water is smelly and usually discharged underground – with the discharge trenches needed replacement eventually).

Secondary and tertiary systems

A secondary treatment system is, most often, a septic tank, followed by a forced-aeration chamber, or a trickling filter chamber through which air passes. Thus, there is an aerobic treatment stage after the anaerobic stage, utilising a different set of organisms. Thereafter there is settling and/or filtration.

(The treated water can be relatively clear and odourless and is usually discharged into topsoil – which can continue indefinitely, if treatment standards are maintained).

a tertiary treatment system is a good quality, well-maintained, secondary system, with the discharges running through a sufficiently-powerful UV lamp (sized for the flow rate) prior to entering the discharge area.

Know your obligations

Primary septic systems

Primary (older) systems must be inspected no less than every three years and pumped out if required when scum and sludge levels occupy 50% of the tank volume.

Secondary and tertiary systems

Secondary and tertiary systems are required to be maintained by a suitably qualified person every six months. Records of each maintenance action must be retained and made available for inspection by Council or their agents.

Local experts that can lend a hand

Onsite wastewater servicing

Oasis Clearwater
0800 48 48 49

0800 628 356

0800 103 040

Hydrovac service
0800 493 768

0800 466 635

Natural Water and Waste
021 1424 451

Mark Bright: 027 489 0604

Pump out servicing
Other consultants

CBC Wastewater
09 372 9190

Annual Report

Related resources


Living sustainably

Whether you are a visitor to Waiheke or a resident, life can be a little different from living in a city so we share ideas and information to help you live more sustainably and in tune with the island. We have guidance on conservation, reducing and managing waste, conserving water and connecting with your community. You can also find out how to grow food, and compost scraps.

Prashanti pic at compost co.

Get composting

We can help you get you started at home with workshops, support and composting products including Bokashi systems and worm farms. We even sell our own compost and crushed shells for the garden. If you're a business looking to manage food scraps and compostables sustainably, we want to hear from you too. Visit the Sustainability Centre for supplies or get in touch.

      Contact us      
person holding plant out and smiling

Volunteers and internships

Join one of our amazing projects and  reduce food waste support our community or help restore our beautiful wetlands. There are plenty of activities to choose from and if you're more of an indoors person, there's lots going on in the Kai Conscious kitchen and WRT offices.

      Join us      

Supported by

auckland council logo
waiheke local board logo white bg

Waiheke Waterways supports these United Nations Sustainable Development Goals

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​​Ngā mihi nui

WRT Team