On-site sewerage

Sewerage network

On a property that’s connected to the sewerage network, the wastewater is conveyed to a centralised treatment facility and it doesn't need to be managed on-site.

Enquiries about premises connected or to be connected to the reticulated water sewer systems should be made to Hunter Water Corporation on 1300 657 657.

On-site sewage

A property that’s not connected to the sewerage network, the wastewater must be managed on-site using an on-site sewage management system (OSSM)

A properly designed, installed and maintained OSSM will safely and sustainably treat and dispose of wastewater.

If you own a property with an OSSM, it's your responsibility to ensure that it's working properly. 

A failing sewage management system is a health risk for your family, the community and it may cause harm to the environment. 

System types

The type of system proposed for a particular site requires careful consideration by an experienced wastewater consultant and/or licensed plumber.

Its design should be specific to the attributes of the property, and the type and volume of wastewater generated.

Making changes to a system without approval can cause problems with how it functions and reduce its effective life.

OSSM application

Council approval is required to install, operate and modify an on-site sewage management system. To obtain approval, you must:

  1. Complete a Combined On-Site Wastewater Management System and Approval to Operate Application Form(PDF, 263KB)
  2. Complete a Site & Soil Assessment Form(PDF, 352KB)
  3. Obtain all the required documentation to support your application (a checklist is provided on the application form)
  4. Pay the application fees

Submitting your application with missing or incomplete information can delay the approval process or result in a refusal.

What happens next?

Your application will be assigned to an Environmental Health Officer for assessment, and will either be approved or rejected. In some cases, further information may be requested before the decision can be made.

1. Approval to Install

Where approved, an Approval to Install is issued. You must provide this approval and its associated approved plans to your installer.

Inspections are conducted at key stages throughout the system installation, which you or your installer must book. The inspection process will be detailed in your Approval to Install issued by Council.

2. Approval to Operate 

Once the system is installed in accordance with the approval, the officer will conduct a final inspection and provide you with an Approval to Operate. The approval will set out your conditions of operations, including regular maintenance requirements. 

If the land or property is sold, Council will contact the new owners to arrange approval to operate. Please contact us if you haven't heard from us within four weeks of your move-in date.

OSSM annual fees

Annual fees apply for properties that have an on-site sewage management system. Fees to operate or inspect are calculated in accordance with Council’s Fees and Charges.

New application (inclusive of required inspections)

Payable on initial application.

Routine domestic/residential site and system inspection

No fee.

Routine commercial site and system inspection

Invoiced after inspection is conducted.


Where re-inspection(s) are required, a fee is invoiced after the inspection.

Approval to Operate

Annual fee for all systems, included on the rates certificate.

Extraordinary costs

On an as needed basis, invoiced after being conducted (e.g. investigatory samples, dye testing).  

Your responsibilities

Property owners are responsible for system maintenance and operation, including repairs.

If you have an onsite system, you must:

  • ensure sure you have approval to use the system
  • know the type of system you have
  • understand its service and maintenance requirements
  • know the location of your wastewater treatment system and its layout (land application area)
  • monitor its performance and identify problems early. Leaks, soggy ground and bad odours indicate a problem. 

Avoid costly repairs!

Protect your system from damage:

  • Exclude vehicles and large animals from the area directly above your system. They can crush plumbing, compact the ground and cause a system failure.
  • Have your septic tank or treatment plant pumped out every three to five years. Sludge can cause blockages that lead to system failure.
  • Keep mechanical systems serviced. Regular servicing ensures critical components and disinfection processes are maintained.
  • Check household products for suitability for use in septic systems. Some cleaners can interfere with the bacterial breakdown in the tank.