Council is responsible for ensuring On-Site Sewage Management Systems (OSMS) operate effectively, which includes approval of installations and alterations, maintaining a register of systems and monitoring the operational effectiveness of the On-Site Sewage Systems within the Local Government Area.

This program is implemented through Council’s On-Site Sewage Management Plan in accordance with legislative requirements and best practice guidelines.

The plan recognises there is potential for risk to human health and the environment caused by the failing of on-site sewage management systems or the inappropriate irrigation of effluent. The level of risk is determined by a number of factors such as location in relation to a water body, density of population, soil type and performance of the system.

In accordance with State requirements, Council established an OSMS Management Plan in 2001 and has consistently maintained a robust routine inspection program to uphold compliance with sewage management systems.

The program involves the inspection of onsite sewage systems across the local government area to verify their proper installation, operation, and maintenance. Through systematic inspections, Council proactively identifies and resolves issues pertaining to on-site sewage systems, minimising potential risks to public health and the environment.

Submissions of feedback from the public for the draft On-Site Sewage Management Plan have now closed.

Summary of Changes

As part of the review process it is proposed that Council, as the responsible authority for regulating on-onsite sewage management practices, implement a consistent approach for OSMS.

Included in the draft On-Site Sewage Management Plan 2024-2028, is the reinstatement of inspections on properties greater than 20 hectares for septic systems across the local government area. This is to ensure all systems meet the required performance standards.

As part of implementing the plan there will be an education program focusing on raising awareness for landholders on potential issues related to onsite sewage systems. This is to ensure that OSMS systems meet the required performance standards and systems are maintained in a reasonable condition so that effluent does not discharge on ground surface.

Those landowners exceeding 20 hectares will receive written notifications regarding the amendments. There will be a grace period of 6-months before the commencement of inspections on premises greater than 20 hectares. Initial inspections would focus on high-risk systems and those constructed in ecologically sensitive areas including those near rivers and streams. This proactive approach allows landowners adequate time to prepare and facilitates a smoother transition towards compliance with regulatory requirements.


Generally, On-Site Sewage Management Systems have an effective operational life of between 15-25 years after which time they may require significant maintenance or replacement to meet the basic performance standards.

The failure of an On-Site Sewage Management System disposal area may pose a major risk to human health and the environment. Failing underground disposals or inappropriate irrigation of effluent are cause for concern as effluent still contains large amounts of dissolved pollutants or can contain disease causing pathogens (e.g. viruses and bacteria).

The purpose of the plan is to:

  • Protect and enhance the quality of public health and the environment.
  • Assist Council to prioritise resources for the efficient monitoring of OSMS.
  • Guide landholders towards sustainable on-site management of domestic sewage and effluent water.
  • Coordinate monitoring, surveillance, environmental assessment, and data collection.
  • Allow for site assessment on a risk management basis and consider alternate solutions for environmentally sensitive sites.

What happens next?

The onsite sewage management plan was on notice and public exhibition for a period of twenty-eight (28) days period for feedback from 14 April to 10 May 2024.

Following this public exhibition period, Council will receive a further report addressing any submissions made with respect to the proposed changes to the onsite sewage management plan and proposing adoption of the management plan unless there are any recommended amendments deemed to be substantial and requiring a further public exhibition period.