It is now mandatory to desludge your septic tanks

For certain households connected to septic tanks, the wastewater from daily activities such as hand-washing is directed to your septic tank, which would require regular desludging.

DID you know that if your premise is connected to a septic tank, you are required to desludge your septic tanks regularly?

This should be done either when the tank is almost full or at least once every two years.

As you go about your daily activities like bathing, doing the laundry, using the restroom and now, frequent hand-washing due to Covid-19 pandemic, the wastewater is directed to your septic tank.

The particles from the wastewater would then settle at the bottom of the tank forming sludge and if not desludged regularly, the accumulated sludge would harden.

When this happens, incoming wastewater would pass through the tank without treatment and eventually make its way to water resources and pollute the rivers and waterways.

Furthermore, this makes the probability of the public being exposed to water-borne diseases such as cholera and hepatitis among others distressingly high.

Imagine a scenario where millions of septic tanks are not regularly desludged.

Currently, there are some 1.35 million septic tanks nationwide and most are being used in city outskirts, small towns or premises and houses that were developed more than 25 years ago.

According to Indah Water Konsortium (IWK) Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Narendran Maniam, less than 10% of the 1.35 million septic tank owners or users conduct scheduled desludging.

“This figure is worrying because we do not want pollution from untreated sewage to impact the country's water resources.

“Unfortunately, many users are not aware of the importance of desludging their septic tank because they may feel it is not their responsibility,” he said.

To this end, the Government through the Environment and Water Ministry has recently gazetted a new regulation known as the Water Services Industry Act (Desludging Services) 2021 which focuses on the need for scheduled desludging of septic tanks nationwide.

This Federal Government gazette came into effect last March, and stipulates that owners or occupants must be responsible for keeping their septic tanks in good condition.

Through the gazette, the national sewerage company will manage the scheduled desludging on premises connected to septic tanks by issuing notices to users.

Narendran shared that this notice is intended to schedule the date of the desludging service to be performed by IWK and will be issued twice as a reminder.

“Through the gazette, IWK is required to inform the regulator – the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) – if the owner, management corporation or occupant of any premises fails to provide access to IWK to desludge the septic tank after a second written notice is issued,” he explained.

He added that IWK will begin issuing notices on scheduled desludging in stages, starting in June until the end of the year.

Meanwhile, septic tank owners can also request for IWK’s responsive desludging service, he said, especially when their septic tanks need to be emptied sooner than the scheduled date.

“Actually, this septic tank is unlike a sewage treatment plant that has mechanical equipment. The septic tank acts as a sedimentation tank and when the wastewater enters it, it will break into small particles and settle at the bottom of the tank.

“Therefore, when the septic tank is not desludged, the particles that enter the tank daily will increase and eventually fill the space in the tank.

“If this continues, these particles will solidify like a rock. When this happens, there will be no more treatment process in the septic tank. Instead, the new wastewater will only pass through the septic tank and may overflow into drains, waterways and the environment,” he said.

According to the gazette, any owner, management corporation or occupant of the premises who fails to comply with the direction of the second written notice from IWK has committed an offence under subsection 65 (3) of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 [Act 655] and may, on conviction, be fined not exceeding RM50,000.

For more information, visit or download the Indah Water mobile application through Apple Store or Google Play Store.

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