On-site Sewage Management

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If you live in a rural, rural residential area or in a small village and your not connected to the MidCoast Water sewerage system, you will need an on-site sewage management (OSSM) system.


OSSM Systems

OSSM systems include:

  • traditional septic tanks
  • pump-out systems
  • aerated wastewater treatment systems
  • composting units
  • reed beds, sand filters and mounds.

See The Easy Septic Guide for more information.

An OSSM system makes sure that all wastewater from your kitchen, laundry and bathroom is disposed of safely. This is important to prevent pollution and the spread of disease.

If you have a question about connection to the water and sewerage system, you need to contact MidCoast Water.

If you have a septic system, you need to know your responsibilities.

Property owners and Council need to work together to make sure septic systems don’t pollute our waterways or cause contamination or health risks.



Buying a property with a Septic System

If you are thinking of buying a property with an on-site sewage management (OSSM) system, we recommend a pre-purchase inspection. This will help you to find out about any potential problems and on-going costs.

If you do purchase a property with an on-site sewage management system, you need to apply for an approval to operate in your own name. The approval goes with the owner of the property, not the land. Use the form at right called Change of Ownership for OSSM System. 



Decommissioning a Septic System

Has your property been connected to the MidCoast Water sewerage system? Have you installed a new septic system? What do you do with your old system?

Old septic tanks have to be decommissioned properly to make sure they don’t cause any pollution or health problems.

You need to:

Are you thinking of purchasing a used septic tank?

If you want to reuse a septic tank or purchase a used tank you need to:



Septic Systems - What are your responsibilities?

You are responsible for any on-site sewage management (OSSM) systems on your premises. This means that as an owner or occupier you must make sure your system is:

  • operating correctly
  • properly maintained 

Maintenance needs vary from system to system. For example, aerated wastewater treatment systems (AWTS) must be serviced every three months and pump-out systems may need to be pumped-out every few weeks. To find out more see our pages on aerated wastewater treatment systems and pump-out systems.

Householders must have an ‘Approval to Operate’ for their OSSM system.

  • All approvals have conditions that tell you the best ways to manage the system approved on the property.
  • Approvals are automatically renewed on 1 September each year. We no longer post copies. However, if you'd like one please contact us.

If you purchase a property with a septic system, you need to contact us for an ‘Approval to Operate’ in your own name. The approval goes with the owner of the property, not the land. See Buying a property with a septic system.

For more information about your responsibilities, including handy tips on checking your septic system and different types of systems see:



Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems (AWTS)

Aerated wastewater treatment systems (AWTS) must be serviced every three months by an accredited service agent. This is to make sure they are working properly and not causing pollution or spreading disease.

This quarterly servicing is required by the NSW Health department. Council has to keep records of the servicing – it is your responsibility to make sure we receive copies of your service reports. However, most service agents send them to us on your behalf.

For more information see Aerated Wastewater Treatment Systems (AWTS) on the NSW Health website.



Pump-Out Systems

Septic pump-out systems are installed on small properties that don’t have enough space for on-site wastewater disposal. They must be pumped-out every few weeks. How often depends on the size of your tank, how many people are using it and how much water you use.

No matter how often you need to have your system pumped out, by law we need a quarterly report from you. To make it easy, every three months we send you a report to fill in and send back to us.

Regular servicing and pumping out is important to monitor potentially illegal discharges that can cause pollution and health risks.

You must use a MidCoast Water approved operator to pump out your system. See Approved Liquid Waste Transporters



Septic Systems - What's Council's role?

Clean, healthy waterways are essential to the quality of life enjoyed by the residents and tourists of the Manning Valley.

Sewage management systems that are failing, poorly maintained or inappropriate to a particular location can pose serious risks to public health and can lead to pollution of waterways. 

To ensure the protection of the natural environment and public health we:

  • Monitor and maintain a register of approximately 6,200 on-site sewage management (OSSM) systems in our area.
  • Classify systems as high, medium or low risk depending on the location and the type and condition of the system.
  • Inspect new and existing systems to make sure they are installed correctly and are being properly operated and maintained.
  • Investigate pollution from failing OSSM systems.
  • Issue approvals to install and operate systems. 

A Septic Administration Charge is levied on all properties with an OSSM system and is included on your rates notice each year. This goes towards making sure that we can all continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the Manning Valley. 



Installing a new Septic System

Are you planning to build on land that can’t be connected to the MidCoast Water sewerage system? Or are you upgrading and installing a new system?

If you’re altering or upgrading an on-site sewage management (OSSM) system or if you’re installing a new one you need separate approvals to install and operate the system. 

How do I get approval?

Step 1:

Obtain approval to install by lodging the correct OSSM application form for your region along with a site and soil assessment prepared by a qualified wastewater or environmental engineering consultant - this needs to be in accordance with Appendix E of the DCP(PDF, 2MB).

Additional information can be found the OSSM Technical Manual(PDF, 4MB) .

Step 2:

Once your system is installed according to the conditions of your approval contact us to arrange an inspection.

Step 3:

If all is OK we'll issue you with an approval to operate the system.