Close cropped photograph of a component on an on site sewage system banner image

On-site sewage management systems

On-site sewage management (OSSM) systems refer to any system that treats wastewater and disposes of the effluent within the premises. If you live in a house that is not connected to reticulated sewer, you will have an OSSM system.

OSSM systems involve the collection and treatment of wastewater, followed by disposal to an approved land application area (effluent disposal area). This disposal area could be:

  • surface or subsurface absorption
  • an irrigation system
  • a system whereby a holding well is used and collected by a tanker.

If not maintained and treated properly, there can be serious adverse effects and impacts, including:

  • spreading of disease, bacteria, virus and pathogens
  • contamination of groundwater and surface water
  • degradation of soil and vegetation
  • spreading of unpleasant odours
  • encouraging insects and vermin.

Approval to install, alter and operate an OSSM system

OSSM systems are regulated jointly by local councils and NSW Health and must be approved by Council before installation. You must ensure your OSSM system is maintained and working well once installed.

If you would like to install a new OSSM system on your property, or alter an existing system, you are required to gain approval from Council and submit an Application to Install/Alter and Operate an On-site Sewage Management System (refer to Section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993).

Council's On-site Sewage Management Code of Practice explains the approvals process and requirements to help you prepare your application. You can also refer to the Local Government (General) Regulation 2021, which provides you with the details of documents required to be lodged with your application:

Under the Local Government (General) Regulation 2021, Council must not approve of the installation of certain sewage management facilities unless they have been accredited by NSW Health. The types of sewage management facilities to which accreditation applies includes septic tanks, aerated wastewater treatment systems and composting toilets.

You can view a list of accredited sewage management systems on NSW Health's website.

How to lodge your application

There are various ways you can lodge your application:

Prepare your supporting documents

From 1 July 2021 the NSW Government made the online lodgement of certain applications mandatory on the NSW Planning Portal.

You can lodge a Section 68 application (OSSM) on the Planning Portal as a separate application or as part of a Development Application (DA).

There are various supporting documents you will need to prepare and upload with your application. Some of these include:

Lodge your application on the NSW Planning Portal

From 1 July 2021 across NSW it is mandatory to lodge certain applications on the NSW Planning Portal.

Step 1: Prepare to upload your supporting documents

Once you have prepared the supporting documents detailed on this page, you will need to save them as separate PDFs ready to upload with your application.

Please ensure that you have addressed all requirements in the application so that you're not charged another portal service fee to re-submit. The NSW Government issues portal service fees to support the ongoing maintenance and delivery of the Planning Portal.

Please note that fees payable through the ServiceNSW gateway may incur a surcharge.

If you have any queries about portal service fees, please contact ServiceNSW:

  • T:  1300 305 695.

Step 2: Lodge your application and supporting documents on the NSW Planning Portal

Council's Environmental Health Officer will assess your application and where approval is granted, we will provide you with a letter that will include any conditions that apply to these works.

Council will issue you with an invoice for the application fee.

If you choose to apply for approval at the same time as your DA rather than lodge a separate Section 68 Application, you will not be required to pay any additional application fees associated with these works.

Step 3: Pay your application fee

Once you receive an invoice for the application fee, you will need to pay the fee by following one of the payment options detailed on the invoice.

You will need to pay the applicable fee at the time of lodging your application. The current fees are:

  • installation application: $357
  • modification: $97
  • unapproved existing tank: $535.

OSSM system risk ratings

All OSSM systems are allocated a risk rating, which determines the frequency of inspections. If you have a sewage management system that has been operating for a while, there is an opportunity to downgrade the risk rating so inspections are required less frequently.

You can apply for this if systems are well maintained and meet these criteria:

  • No defects have been identified for the past three inspections (high risk) or two inspections (medium risk).
  • The property has remained in the same ownership during the above inspections.
  • The property is owner-occupied (not tenanted or holiday rented).


More information

Contact us

If you need more information about on-site sewage management systems, please contact our Public and Environmental Health Team: