On-site sewage management

A man closing the lid on a septic tank.


Council regulates the installation and operation of On-site Sewage and Wastewater Management Systems (OSMS). If your home is not connected to the sewer, you must have an approved on-site sewage management system, such as a septic tank, composting toilet or aerated wastewater treatment system. There are special regulations that apply to the installation and on-going operation of OSMS’s.

As the owner of the property, it is your responsibility to ensure that your OSMS is approved by council and that it is working properly. On-site systems can be a risk to the health of your family and other community members if they are not properly maintained. They can also cause harm to the environment.

To ensure that your system meets the requirements, you will need to obtain two approvals from council.

  • Approval to install a new onsite sewage management system or upgrade your existing system, and/or
  • Approval to operate a sewage management system.

After you obtain these approvals, council will carry out regular inspections to make sure the system is working properly.

If you have any questions about the on-site sewage system requirements, please contact Councils Regulatory Services Section on 02 6625 0500.

Click on the following links to access further OSMS information:

Approval - Installation and/or alterations to OSMS

Local Councils are the authority responsible for approval and regulation of OSMS. The prior approval of Council is required before you can undertake works for the installation of or alteration to an OSMS. Information to apply for application is available on the NSW Planning Portal (links below):

Council has developed an OSMS Strategy (On-site Sewage and Wastewater Management Strategy) and associated Wastewater Model (On-site Wastewater Model). The Strategy provides essential guidance for owners, applicants, installers, consultants and developers on all aspects of on-site sewage and wastewater management for single domestic households from planning through to construction and maintenance.  

Council also offers a range of resources, such as guidelines and information sheets to assist with the design, installation and maintenance of OSMS (see overview).

Approval – Operate OSMS and Inspections

Local Councils are the authority responsible for approval and regulation of OSMS. The prior approval of Council is required before an owner can operate a OSMS. Click here Section 68 Application to Install/Construct or Alter/Upgrade a Sewage Management Facility.

Approval to Operate a System of Sewage Management is issued to the owner/s of the land on which the OSMS is installed and is not transferable to subsequent purchasers. A person who purchases land on which any OSMS is installed may continue to operate the system for a period of 3 months during which time an application is to be made to Council for a further personalised approval.

Change of owner process

Approval to Operate a System of Sewage Management is primarily an accountability mechanism between the individual landowner and the council. This is an 'operating approval' setting performance objectives and accountability requirements for the on-going management of an OSMS.

Approval to operate a system of sewage management requires the landowner to take all reasonable steps to minimise transmission of disease, pollution of water and degradation of land as a result of the operation of a OSMS.

As part of Council’s on-going Onsite Sewage Management Program all existing OSMS’s are inspected periodically. An annual charge is incorporated into Councils Rates Notice of owners of OSMS to fund the program - see Council's fees and charges. Targeted inspections are undertaken subsequent to a property purchase and prior to the issuing of a further personalised Certificate of Approval to Operate.

When buying a property serviced by an On-Sewage Management System it is recommended to arrange an inspection of the On-Sewage Management System by a suitably qualified and experienced person (NSW licensed plumber and drainer) to check the operation performance of the On-Sewage Management System. Council does not provide a pre-purchase inspection service. Any works that alter or upgrade the On-Sewage Management System will require the prior approval of Council. Click here Application to Install/Construct or Alter/Upgrade a Sewage Management Facility.  

What to do after a flood

This document provides information and advice on OSSMS (septics, Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems [AWTS], Reed Beds etc.) and Land Application Area (LAA) care after a flood.

What to do after the flood