Sewering Coastal Villages Project


Bellingen Shire Council, in partnership with the NSW Government, has committed to delivering the revisited plan for the Sewering Coastal Villages Project. The project will see a comprehensive upgrade of our sewer system, responding to the needs of our coastal communities as well as addressing environmental concerns of the Kalang and Bellinger River.

The Bellingen Shire Community Vision identifies that we all want clean water which is protected and used sustainably.

The Sewering Coastal Villages is divided into three phases, including the construction of upgrades to the Urunga Sewage Treatment Plant (phase 1), along with on-site sewage treatment systems in key areas such as Raleigh, and Mylestom (phase 2). The Raleigh Industrial Estate and Repton (phase 3) will be considered as future funding options become available.

The project will involve the installation of gravity mains, pump stations, and a treatment plant upgrade to provide sewerage services to the area.

Project Update

In December 2023, Council took a significant step forward in the Sewering Coastal Villages project, with a decision to enter into a contract for the upgrade of the Urunga Sewage Treatment Plant (STP) resolved at an Extraordinary Meeting of Council.

Following the completion of a tender negotiation process for the project, a report was presented to Council as a confidential matter during this meeting, with Council awarding the project to Leed Engineering Pty Ltd. Council will work closely with the successful contractor to ensure the project is delivered efficiently and meets the needs of our community.

The comprehensive tender process for the Urunga STP began in April 2023, with a number of challenges faced including the rising costs of project delivery due to supply chain shortages and inflation. During the August Ordinary Meeting of Council, a decision was made to decline the initial tender applications and enter further negotiations.

Following this decision, NSW Public Works were engaged to facilitate an extensive negotiation process with specific tenderers who made submissions. The overall aim of the negotiations was to reduce the offered price. An agreement has now been achieved through scope consolidation and whilst contractor-initiated savings were achieved, a budget shortfall of $3 million has been identified which is to be covered by the Sewer Fund Reserve for this component of the project. This decision to progress delivery of phase 1 of the Sewering Coastal Villages project was thoroughly debated to ensure Council considered the risks associated with delivering a project of this scale. The project scope changes that remove the recycled water plant, the exclusion of a non-essential concrete apron for the sludge lagoon and the revision of material options to favour more cost-effective choices were considered and identified that they can be added at a later date as funding becomes available.

Further to the resolved tender agreement, Councillor’s unanimously moved to review the impact of the additional funding required for phase 1 and the subsequent impact this might have on the delivery of the entire project, as well as to prepare a public timeline report of the decision-making process from the inception of the complete Sewering Coastal Villages project to be made available within the current financial year. Further, monthly financial and progress reports and updates will be tabled at the Ordinary Council Meetings for the duration of the project.

Impacted Residents: Register your details

Where is the sewer being connected?

Interactive map


The Sewering Coastal Villages Project includes three phases:

Phase 1: The construction of upgrades to the Urunga Sewage Treatment Plant

Phase 2: On-site sewage treatment systems in key areas such as Raleigh, and Mylestom

Phase 3: The Raleigh Industrial Estate and Repton, which will be considered as future funding options become available. 


Impacted Residents: Register your details

What is a pressure sewer system?

Low pressure sewer systems convey wastewater from your home to the regional wastewater treatment facility. Unlike gravity connection, they use a small pump station located at each house to move wastewater through the transmission system.

Sewerage System components.png

Pump diagram.png

Why is the sewer being connected?

The Bellinger and Kalang Rivers have been closed on numerous occasions due to repeated instances of faecal contamination.

These closures, which have impacted on public health and the health of our rivers, wetlands, oyster farms and local businesses, can largely be attributed to failing septic tanks within the project area.

That is why it is important to connect the sewer to properties identified by the Sewering Coastal Villages Project to prevent further instances of faecal contamination. 

When will the sewer be connected?

The Sewering Coastal Villages Project has recommenced and is currently proceeding to the contracting and procurement stages of the project.

Updates on project timeline to come, follow this page to get the latest news on this project.

Will land owners have to pay for the sewer to be connected to their property?

  • Residential Properties: there will be no connection cost if the new grinder pump is to be located adjacent to the decommissioned septic system
  • Commercial Premises: if the property uses less than 20 kilolitres of water per day the owner of the Commercial Premises will be charged 25% of the connection cost. Commercial Premises using more that 20 kilolitres per day will be charged the full connection cost.
  • New Developments: New Developments will be charged the full connection costs for internal infrastructure and their usage component of external infrastructure (similar to Section 64 Charges).


Is my property part of the sewerage scheme?

Please see area maps below to identify if your property is effected.

Impacted Residents: Register your details

PHASE 2 - Approved area 


Mylestom Phase 2.PNG


Raleigh Phase 2.PNG

PHASE 3 -Pending Funding


Repton V3.PNG

Raleigh Industrial Estate

Raleigh Phase 2.PNG


What are the costs for residential property owners?

Council will cover the cost of the connecting pipe work if the new grinder pump is to be located adjacent to the decommissioned septic system.

Note: this infers that the property owner will be required to pay for pipe work in situations where they choose to have the new grinder pump not located adjacent to the decommissioned septic system.  This is not a common scenario as most property owners are happy to have the new grinder pump located close to the decommissioned septic system.

Is it compulsory that my property is connected to Council's pressure sewerage system?

Yes - property owners must connect their dwelling to the reticulated sewerage system. Bellingen Shire Council will undertake all required works. 

Why does Council require my email and/or phone number?

Council would like to keep residents regularly updated in relation to the project.

As part of the project, the Contractor will also need to arrange for a time to meet with each individual property owner to elect the most suitable location for the pressure sewer unit on each property. Each resident must be able to be contacted to arrange a time for this to occur.

Impacted Residents: Register your details


Is there a cost to decommission my existing system?

There is no cost to decommission your old system as Council will decommission the unit as part of the project. However, Council will not fully remove the old system, so if you require it to be removed after decommissioning that will be at your cost.

Once the existing system is decommissioned, do the absorption trenches remain, or is it a requirement to undertake further work on them?

Absorption trenches can remain.

Will there be ongoing operating costs to property owners?

Yes there will be ongoing costs for landowners once the sewerage is connected. 

Land owners will be charged a sewerage fee for use of the system, like all of the other land owners with sewerage connected across the Shire. In 2023/24 the sewerage charge is $1132 per annum for residential properties with the standard 20 mm meter, with an $87.50 annual pensioner discount. Larger meters are more expensive. Commercial premises will pay a sewage usage charge of $1.5/kl. Some commercial premises will need a trade waste licence and be charged for discharging into the sewer. 

The type of sewer system being used also needs electricity to run. This will be a cost to the land owner. Council estimates that this charge will be between $52 and $65 per year. 

Once the sewer is connected land owners will not have the cost of pumping out the septic tank or paying septic inspection fees. Pump out costs depend on the number of people using the septic system and cost between $300 - $400 per time. The septic inspection fee is $158 per time. 

A new septic system costs between $10,000 and $15,000. 

Is the sewer scheme going to open up the coastal villages for further development?

No, Council is connecting the sewer to the coastal villages because of the public health and environmental benefits.

Overall there is limited potential for growth in the sewer system areas. The system is only being sized to accommodate a limited number of extra connections consisting of identified infill, vacant blocks and a minimal number of town house developments.

Once the sewer system is in place the capacity of the system will not be able to be increased in the future to respond to new development. Rural land that has already been zoned for development will be accommodated by the sewer system but there will be no capacity within the system for any new land releases.

The land on the corner of Keevers Drive and Perry’s Road in Repton is currently zoned for residential purposes. While the land is yet to be developed, there is the potential for over 200 new residential lots to be accommodated on the land (subject to a detailed subdivision design). This kind of subdivision is referred to ‘greenfield development’ The sewer system will be able to service this land if it is ever developed.

In January 2020 Council approved the Bellingen Shire Local Housing Strategy. This 20 year strategy outlines Council’s approach to future growth across the Shire. The Strategy commits to new growth within existing towns through well designed infill rather than releasing further rural land for subdivisions. It includes infill growth goals for different locations across the Shire over 20 years. Overall Council anticipates that half of the Shires growth over the next 20 years will come from well- designed infill with the remainder coming from subdivisions on land that has already been zoned for development. 

The infill growth goal for Mylestom, Repton and Raleigh is 56 dwellings over 20 years. 

Significant growth is expected in Urunga over the same period. There is land in Urunga currently zoned for development that has the capacity for up to 1,000 extra dwellings. 

What will happen if Council sees unapproved structures on properties when the sewerage system is being installed?

Council will offer an amnesty on unapproved structures/buildings to land owners in the Scheme’s footprint. Council will work closely with owners to provide guidance and advice on what applications need to be made to Council in order to have these structures/buildings assessed. Each application will be assessed on its merits in accordance with the relevant planning legislation.

What should I do if I want to replace my existing septic system before the project begins?

You should hold off or complete minimal repairs to keep the system operating until February 2025. However, if the system has completely failed you must replace it at your cost.

What have been some of the key decisions and milestones of this project?

Community members can access a report on the major milestones and Council decisions related to the Sewering Coastal Villages project.

Click here(PDF, 182KB) to access the report.