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Public Health & Safety

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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.

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.

For more information, please refer to the Office of Local Government's Septic Safe - The Easy Septic Guide.

Installation of an OSSMS has to be approved by Council either through a Development Application (DA) or a Section 68 Application. If seeking approval for an on-site sewage management system which is not associated with a development application please completed Form 5 - Plumbing Drainage & On-site Sewage.

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.

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 about performance standards you have to comply with under your Approval to Operate.

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.

It is the responsibility of the homeowner/occupier to ensure that the OSSMS 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 OSSMS and must ensure that the necessary service contracts are in place. If it is an AWTS system, then in most cases it is required to be serviced quarterly.

Notification to Council through Form 5 - Plumbing Drainage & On-site Sewage of any changes or alterations to your OSSMS and effluent application area (for example, absorption trench) is required prior to any works being carried out.

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 or contact Yass Valley Council's Environmental Services team on 6226 1477 or Council@yass.nsw.gov.au.

For more information:

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