Onsite Sewage Management

If your home is not connected to a reticulated sewerage system (the sewer) you will have an Onsite Sewage Management System (OSSMS) located on your property accepting, treating and dispersing the waste water from your home within the confines of your land.

What is an OSSMS?

Onsite Sewage Management Systems include:

  • Septic tanks.
  • Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems (AWTS).
  • Composting toilets, biological systems and Domestic Greywater Treatment Devices.
  • Absorption trenches/evapotranspiration beds.
  • Mounds and surface or subsurface irrigation areas.

    As an OSSMS owner, you have an increased level of responsibility to ensure your OSSMS is working properly so that your family, the community and the environment are protected from disease and pollution.

Failing Onsite Sewage Management Systems can:

  • Cause a serious health threat to family and neighbours.
  • Degrade and pollute the environment, especially waterways.
  • Reduce the value of your property.
  • Create unwanted/foul odours.

Approval to install

Installation of an OSSMS has to be approved by Council either through a Development Application (DA) or a Section 68 Application. If seeking approval to install or alter an on-site sewage management system which is not associated with a development application please complete a s68 application through the NSW Planning Portal.

This Application must be submitted along with a scaled site plan and a report from a qualified and experienced wastewater consultant who will determine what system is best for your property based on the intended wastewater load, local environment, risks and soil type. A list of approved wastewater consultants in our area can be obtained by calling Council on 6226 1477.


Approval to operate

Operating a system of sewage management is a prescribed activity under Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993 and Clause 45 of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005. This means that an approval to operate a system of sewage management must be obtained from Council.

Unlike Council consent for the development of land, Council approval to operate a system of sewage management is personal and does not run with the land. Approval to operate a system of sewage management is primarily an accountability mechanism between the individual landowner and Council. Unlike other approvals under the Local Government Act 1993, which relate to a specific time frame, this is an "operating approval" setting performance objectives and accountability requirements for the management of an ongoing activity.

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 sewage management activity and requires that the landowner inform Council about those activities and pay fees to contribute to Council's costs of managing the cumulative impact of sewage pollution. It is the activity of sewage management, not the facilities, which are the subject of the approval.

Learn more about performance standards you have to comply with under your Approval to Operate and in section 44 of the Local Government (General) Regulation 2021

Approval to operate your sewerage management system under section 68 of the Local Government Act is administered through Council's rates notice system. This fee is set in Council's fees and charges and is payable annually as part of your rates notice.


Pre-purchase inspections

If you are buying a house with an OSSMS and you are wondering if it is operating well and not causing pollution or nuisance issues, then you can book an inspection with Council's Environmental Services Team on 6226 1477 or Council@yass.nsw.gov.au.


Maintenance and alteration

It is the responsibility of the homeowner/occupier to ensure that the Sewage Management Facility on their property is maintained and operated in a manner that does not pose any risk to public health and/or the environment. The owner or occupier should be aware of the operation and maintenance requirements for their system and must ensure that the necessary service contracts are in place and any necessary maintenance is carried out. If it is an Aerated Wastewater Treatment System (AWTS), then in most cases your approval and the manufacturer’s operation and maintenance manual will require it to be serviced quarterly. This servicing will ensure that the effluent that is discharged through sprinklers onto the ground surface is safe and in accordance with the Australian Standard.

Notification to Council through the NSW Planning Portal of any changes or alterations to your OSSMS and effluent application area) is required prior to any works being carried out.

Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems (AWTS) Servicing

AWTS units must be serviced by a private contractor at least once every 3 months. Regular quarterly servicing is a mandatory requirement as per Council approval and NSW Health accreditation.

Septic Tank Pump-out 

It is recommended that septic tanks or the septic chamber of your AWTS needs desludging every 3-5 years.

For further information, tips and ideas on how to maintain a healthy septic system please refer to The Easy Septic Guide



For a list of options on ways to decommission your septic tank or AWTS, and for reuse options of these tanks for garden irrigation water, read Council's Decommissioning Guidelines(PDF, 82KB)  or contact Yass Valley Council's Environmental Services team on 6226 1477 or Council@yass.nsw.gov.au.