On-site sewage management

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

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(PDF, 987KB)  for more information.

These systems make 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 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.

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

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 with the existing system, and see if it is operating in accordance with its current 'Approval to Operate' and general operating conditions.

There is a fee associated with a request for a pre purchase inspection. See Councils fees and charges for further information.

Decommissioning a septic system

If your property has recently been connected to the sewerage system or you have you installed a new septic system, your old system needs to be properly decommissioned.

This ensures they don’t cause any pollution or health problems.

You need to:

Aerated wastewater treatment systems - servicing agents

Aerated wastewater treatment systems (AWTS) must be serviced every three months (or otherwise approved) by an accredited service agent.

This quarterly servicing is required by the NSW Health department and Council, and ensures that the system is working properly and not causing a risk to the environment or public health.

Council is required to keep records of each quarterly service. It is the property owners responsibility to make sure the system is serviced and that we receive copies of your service reports. However, most service agents will send copies of the service report to Council on your behalf.

Pumpout OSSM systems & approved liquid waste transporters

Septic pump-out systems are installed on small properties that don’t have enough space for on-site wastewater disposal.

Collection wells and holding tanks must be pumped-out regularly by a Council approved liquid waste Contractor to ensure that they do not overflow.

How often the tank gets pumped out depends on the size of your tank, how many people are using it, and how much water you use.

Liquid waste contractors that pump out and transport wastewater/effluent must be licenced by Council. This is to ensure that wastewater/effluent is disposed of correctly.

Septic tanks also need to be desludged every 3-5 years (dependant on usage) to remove solids/sludge build up and to ensure the ongoing efficiency of the system.

To check which liquid waste contractors are licensed with Council, visit this page.

Septic systems - what's Council's role?

We ensure that all onsite sewage management systems are approved, installed and managed so that they comply with the requirements under the Local Government Act 1993 and Local Government (General) Regulation 2005, and do not pose a risk to the environment or public health.

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

  • Monitor and maintain a register of approximately 12,650 on-site sewage management (OSSM) systems operating 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. 

Council charges an annual administration fee as part of the annual property rate notice for all on-site sewage management systems. This goes towards making sure that we can all continue to enjoy the natural beauty of the Mid Coast Council area.

Installing a new septic system or altering an existing system

The installation of a new, or the alteration to an existing OSSM system, requires the approval of Council under the Local Government Act 1993. An 'Application for approval to install, alter or construct a waste treatment device or human waste storage facility and approval to operate a system of sewage management' (also known as a Section 68 application).

You will need to submit an application form and have this approved by Council before any works are undertaken.

The application form, associated documentation (detailed on the application form) and fee can be submitted in person at Council's administration buildings, posted to Council, or submitted online.

Once the application has been assessed by Council an 'Approval to Install an onsite sewage management system' will be issued to the owner/applicant outlining conditions for compliance. It also means that the systems installation can now begin.

Our Environmental Health Officers and Building Surveyors are required to inspect the system at various stages of the installation which are outlined in the Approval.

On satisfactory completion of the systems installation an "Approval to Operate an OSSM" will be issued.

Additional information applicable to properties in the Manning region can be found the OSSM Technical Manual(PDF, 4MB) and also In Appendix E of the Manning Region Development Control Plan - On-site Sewage Development Assessment Framework(PDF, 2MB).

Approval to operate an onsite sewage management system

On satisfactory completion of the systems installation an "Approval to Operate an OSSM" will be issued.

  • All 'Approval to Operates' have conditions that tell you how to manage the system approved on the property.
  • Approvals to Operate are automatically renewed each year in electronic format.
  • Approval hard copies are not automatically sent out to the property owner.
  • Customers can request a copy of the approval to be emailed to them or sent by post. This can be done by calling our customer service team on (02) 7955 7777  or by using the online request form.