If your business or rental property isn’t connected to the Sydney Water’s sewage system you’ll have some type of on-site sewage management system to store, treat and dispose of waste water.

You can report an on-site waste water issue to Council. Here we provide you with a basic understanding of your responsibilities.

Installing new systems

Installing a new on-site waste water system or modifying your existing one?  You’ll need an Approval to Install and an Approval to Operate, under section 68 of the Local Government Act 1993.

We’ll issue an approval based on a risk assessment of the system and you’ll need to comply with its conditions.

Inspection program

Council operates an inspection program to ensure systematic and ongoing management of sewage management systems. Inspections are conducted on risk-based principles. Find out more

Responsibilities of property owners

Your on-site sewage management system’s operation is your responsibility. This could mean making changes like conserving water, minimising chemical cleaners and avoiding large or sudden loads of waste water.

You’ll need service and maintenance contracts with qualified providers.

If your system’s defective and can’t be repaired, contact us to discuss replacement.

Responsibilities of service providers

Trained service agents are responsible for educating owners on use and maintenance of on-site sewage systems.

Agents make a report of each service call, certifying operation compliance, specifying repairs undertaken and test results. The owner, Council and service agent each keep copies for their records.

When systems fail

Service providers discovering a system failure from improper use must advise the owner. Continuing problems are reported to Council. If effluent causes pollution, the service provider is required to notify Council.

Service agents make temporary repairs and rectify immediate risks to public health. Work must comply with environmental and public health standards.

Responsibilities of Council

It’s our job to monitor the operation of all on-site sewage management systems in the Northern Beaches catchment.

We can, and will if necessary, issue orders requiring an owner to take action to comply with regulation and maintain premises in a healthy condition.

We’ll issue orders for owners to take action to store, treat or dispose of waste if necessary.

Council can also prohibit the use of a human waste storage facility to be used, and/or the premises connected to a public sewer when the sewer is within 75m.

Selling or leasing

If selling or leasing your property, you must supply the new owners or tenants with an operating manual. Additional copies of this should be available on request. Topics in the operating manual should include:

  • System operation and capabilities
  • Operating requirements - system capacity, the importance of spreading the hydraulic load and actions to be avoided
  • Troubleshooting and signs of system failure, such as odours and surface ponding of wastewater
  • Maintenance and servicing requirements
  • Management of health risks
  • Occupational health and safety, first aid and chemical handling
  • Warranty and service life
  • Emergency telephone numbers

Troubleshooting - problems with your system

If you have any problems with your on-site sewage management system, read this troubleshooting guide first. It might help you identify the issue.

  • Is the grease trap full or blocked?
    Yes - Clean and re-check for blockage later
    No - Problems may be with your septic tank - contact your plumber
  • Is the absorption trench wet or soggy?
    Yes - Check for increase in water usage and reduce it
    No - Problem may be with your septic tank or grease trap
  • Is there any surface water around the absorption trench?
    Yes - Check for increase in water usage and reduce it
    No - Problem with septic tank or grease trap
  • Has there been recent heavy rain?
    Yes - Divert storm-water away from the absorption area by building an earth bank
    No - Contact your plumber - your trenches may need to be replaced. Desludging the septic tank provides only a temporary solution
  • Is there water flowing from the absorption trench?
    Yes - Contact your plumber - your trenches may need to be replaced. Desludging your tank provides only a temporary solution
    No - If the problem is not listed here contact your plumber

Report an issue

Contact us urgently on 1300 434 434 if you have a problem with any of the following:

  • Pollution
  • Water contamination
  • Spray drift
  • Odour
  • A system on a neighbouring property

Report an on-site waste water issue to our Online Customer Service.