On-site Sewerage Management
Council has developed an On-Site Sewage Management Plan to help effectively manage domestic sewage and wastewater throughout the region. It aims to prevent risk to public health and minimise the impact of on-site sewage management facilities on the environment. Together with the NSW Department of Local Government’s The Easy Septic Guide, these documents provide guidelines for the selection, design, siting, construction, operation and maintenance of on-site sewage management facilities.
Registration & Approval of New/Existing On-Site Sewage Management Systems
Before installing a septic tank (or on-site sewage management system), you must first obtain approval from Council. This can be done either in conjunction with a development application for a new dwelling (or other development) if submitting one at the time, or on a separate Section 68 application form if installing an on-site sewage management system only. Please refer to 3.6 Application for Approval of Council’s On-Site Sewage Management Plan for details on what plans and specifications are required to accompany your application.
If you live on a property that already has a septic tank (or on-site sewage management system), please ensure that it is registered with Council and has approval to operate. This is a requirement under the Local Government Act 1993 and there are penalties of up to $2,200 for failure to comply. You can check whether or not your system has approval by contacting your local council office. If required, registration can be made using Council's Section 68 application form.
Which Septic System is Right for You?
There are various septic systems around and it’s worth speaking with an environmental health officer at your local council or a septic system specialist before making a decision on what to buy. Factors that will influence which system you install include:
- Where the system will be located – soil type, the slope of the ground, available area for dispersal, proximity to bodies of water, etc;
- What the system will be used for – waste from toilets only with separate grey-water facilities or for all waste-water, whether or not the intention is to use treated waste-water for any form of irrigation, etc;
- Who will use the system – how many people is the residence capable of housing, how often is the premises occupied, etc.;
- Water supply – is the residence connected to reticulated water, tank-water, bore-water, etc.
The most commonly used setup in Australia is the basic septic tank and trench system. This can be expanded to include things like sand filters, wetland treatment areas, and evapotranspiration beds instead of the trench(es) where soil conditions make trenches less suitable.
There are also Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems where a second tank treats the effluent further through aeration and the use of chlorination or ultra-violet light before being pumped to an irrigation area. These systems are required to have a strict quarterly servicing contract and need to be closely monitored and maintained.
Composting systems, both wet and waterless, are becoming increasingly popular and there are many models available on the market. As with any on-site sewage management system, it is important to make sure that what you purchase is accredited by the NSW Department of Health.
For more information on which system will meet your needs you can refer to The Easy Septic Guide or speak with qualified plumber/septic system specialist or an environmental health officer at your local council office.
Reporting a Malfunctioning Septic Tank / Wastewater System
If you are concerned that an on-site sewage management system is being operated in an unsafe manner or in a way which is detrimental to the environment, you can lodge a complaint with Council’s Customer Service Team for investigation by our Environmental Health Officers. Please note that Council’s role is to implement the relevant environment and public health laws and does not extend to seeking compensation for any personal injury or to providing legal advice.
When lodging a complaint, please provide as much of the following information as possible:
Your name, address and telephone number;
The nature, time and location of the incident or issue identified;
Details of the premises where the offending system is located including full street address;
If anyone’s health has been affected, their symptoms and when those symptoms became evident.
If you have been exposed to a malfunctioning on-site sewage management system and you are feeling unwell or your health is affected in any way, it is important that you seek medical advice as soon as possible.
Legislation & Guidelines for On-Site Sewage Management Systems
Mid-Western Regional Council’s On-Site Sewage Management Plan
NSW Department of Local Government’s “The Easy Septic Guide”
Environment & Health Protection Guidelines “On-site Sewage Management for Single Households” Issued by Department of Local Government, Environment Protection Authority, NSW Health, NSW Department of Land & Water Conservation and the Department of Urban Affairs and Planning.
NSW Legislation - Website: www.legislation.nsw.gov.au
Public Health Unit – www.health.nsw.gov.au/publichealth
PO Box 739
Dubbo NSW 2830
Ph: (02) 6841 5569
Fax: (02) 6841 5571
On-Site Sewerage Management System
What are the requirements for septic tanks?
You are required by legislation to register a septic tank and to get approval from Council for its installation. The type of system you are required to have will be dependent upon the risk of contamination and the proximity to water courses and other sensitive parts of the landscape. Refer to the Septics Tanks page.
Download the On-Site Sewerage Management Factsheet (211kb)
Download the On-Site Sewerage Management Plan (278kb)