SOWDES evolved after many years of involvement within the water services industry where there was a distinct need for the services of a consulting firm to evaluate site specific requirements for on-site wastewater management systems, sewer and stormwater management, water conservation and re-use and bush fire protection systems. These different and broad fields of environmental consideration can occur individually or collectively within any project and therefore a consulting firm that can address all these elements in a single undertaking has immense benefit not only for the land owner or developer but also for the assessing consent authority.

Working within a predominantly rural area it was noticed that many of the earlier septic systems that were installed to service rural residential properties were done so with limited guidance and that they were constructed to a standard design, not the soil they were interacting within or based on the volume of discharges. Many dwellings were located near to creeks, rivers and wells for convenience of access to water supply, and therefore many systems were installed in alluvial soils with very little absorptive capacity and some times these areas were prone to seasonal flooding.

Tertiary studies in agriculture, water systems, irrigation, plumbing, soil science and pumping systems seemed a useful combination of disciplines to understand the principles and mechanics of septic systems and to investigate measures to overcome some of the non-compliance issues. The difficulty often associated with failing absorption trenches off septic tanks is that the dwelling and septic system have normally been designed to work with natural falls to facilitate fluid flows via gravitational forces, however in the event of system failure, the components cannot simply be extended or moved because there is usually insufficient land area to accommodate the necessary changes. Additionally, new regulations governing the location and proximity of septic systems to natural environmental systems such as watercourses, rivers, wells and bores mean that many septic systems that can be remedied by extending the existing components still do not comply because they breach these buffer separation distance guidelines.

The owner of SOWDES has over 25 years of practical and theoretical experience to address issues pertaining to on-site wastewater management, water supply systems, sewer and stormwater drainage systems, stormwater quality and bushfire protection – all of which are designed in a ecologically sustainable fashion whilst striving to achieve a balance between the developer’s intent and the relevant standards and guidelines and appreciating the ‘real world practicalities’ of satisfying both.