TopicsRelated documents of interest
On-site sewage management
Common Questions regarding on-site Sewage Management Systems (OSMS)
- Why is it important to effectively manage on-site sewage management systems?
- What are the responsibilities of landowners with on-site systems?
- What are the responsibilities of councils for the management of on-site systems?
- Why do I need to have my Aerated Wastewater Treatment System inspected by council when it is regularly checked by a service agent?
- How do councils set fees for on-site system inspections?
- Where can I find further information about my on-site system management responsibilities?
On-site Sewage Management Systems (OSMS) (Answers)
Why is it important to effectively manage on-site sewage management systems?Failing on-site systems release dangerous levels of sewage pollution into the environment. Sewage pollution causes contamination of water, which can spread disease and lead to environmental degradation.
What are the responsibilities of landowners with OSMSs?Under the Local Government (General) Regulation 2005 all landowners with on-site systems are required to obtain an approval to operate the system from their council. Landowners must also maintain and manage their on-site systems in accordance with health and environmental performance standards. Some of the performance standards which must be met include:
What are the responsibilities of councils for the management of on-site systems?Councils are required to manage the cumulative impact of sewage pollution in their local government area, which includes approving the installation and operation of on-site systems. The on-site sewage management regulations are flexible so that councils may determine the most appropriate sewage management strategy for local circumstances. Councils have wide discretion to determine the level of supervision of on-site systems to accommodate variation between high, medium and low risk areas, to minimise costs and to maximise community benefits. Councils have been encouraged to develop on-site sewage management strategies, and should consult with their community when doing so. Most strategies include a regime of inspecting on-site systems.
Why do I need to have my Aerated Wastewater Treatment System inspected by council when it is regularly checked by a service agent?Aerated systems use sensitive biological agents, mechanical systems and chemical processes to produce a higher quality effluent than a standard septic tank. Aerated systems must be carefully managed and serviced to keep them working well and safely. Service agents check the internal components, but do not always check the public health and environmental impacts of effluent disposal. Unlike standard septic systems, aerated systems often discharge effluent above ground where it can come into contact with humans or run off into adjoining land and waterways. If the treatment process fails, aerated systems can become a serious risk to public health and the environment. Councils are responsible for managing the risk of sewage pollution in their areas and may therefore require a council inspection of aerated systems.
How do councils set fees for on-site system inspections?Where on-site system inspections occur, councils are able to charge a fee to cover the cost. The revenue raised from such fees enables the council to manage its sewage management responsibilities for the benefit of its community. Revenue policy for inspection fees is a matter for the council to determine. However, inspection fees should be set in consultation with the community and council should set out any changes to fees in its Management Plan. The matters to be considered in setting such fees include relevant provisions of the legislation, as well as the purpose of the service, its contribution to meeting the councilís duty of care to ensure safe management of on-site systems in the local area, affordability and equity.
Where can I find further information about my on-site system management responsibilities?In the first instance you should raise any queries about the operation of your on-site system directly with your local council. As the regulatory bodies responsible for enforcing the relevant legislation, councils are best placed to answer questions about on-site systems.
Relevant legislation:Local Government Act 1993 Local Government (General) Regulation 2005
Last Updated Friday, 9 April 2010
Documents of Interest
||Easy Septic Guide (614 kb)|
||On-site sewage management for Single Households Guide - Environmental and Health Protection Guidelines (2.32mb)|