Onsite Sewage Management System (OSMS) Program

If your home is not connected to Council's reticulated sewerage system (or town sewer) then you are likely to dispose of your wastewater via an on-site sewage management system (OSMS).  

On-site sewage management systems comprise of a septic system as well as the effluent disposal area and may be one of the following types:      

  • Septic systems;       
  • Secondary treatment systems eg. aerated wastewater treatment systems, reed beds, sand filter;       
  • Pump-out systems; and
  • Composting toilets

Do you know your type of system and its location?  If you are unsure, Council recommends you engage a suitably qualified plumber to check on your system and locate its components to include the effluent disposal area.

Council Responsibility:

Council is the approval authority for all on-site sewage management systems (OSMS) in the Bellingen Local Government Area and is therefore required to ensure OSMS are not failing in their operation and do not pose a threat to human or environmental health in order to issue an approval to operate.  This requires each system to be periodically inspected. The frequency of inspections for a particular OSMS will be determined by a number of factors, including the type of system, effluent treatment level and distance from environmentally sensitive areas, such as waterways.

Property Owner(s) Responsibility:

Under section 68 of the NSW Local Government Act 1993, approval is required to operate an OSMS.  It is the obligation of the property owner to ensure they are fully informed about the type of OSMS on the relevant property, the components which comprise each system, and any requirements for operation and maintenance.

Owners of a rental or leased property that contains an OSMS, are also required to ensure that the occupants of those properties are aware of the operational requirements of the OSMS in place at the rental premises. Records for each OSMS must be maintained by the property owner, and a copy is to be kept on the property where the OSMS is located.

Prior to requesting an inspection please ensure you are aware of and provide the following to Council:

  • A site plan showing the exact location and dimensions of the system disposal area, e.g. trenches or irrigation fields (example of layout plan); 
  • The disposal area is cleared of vegetation; 
  • Components of the disposal area are clearly identified. (for example, the location of a trench or bed is to be clearly marked); and
  • Records of maintenance e.g. receipts for most recent pump out and/or any details of repair or modification to the system.

Council recommends you are familiar with the Septic Safe Guide - see link below.  This document is a useful resource for owner operators of on-site sewage management systems. Please also refer to the Guide to On-Site Sewage Management Systems (OSMS)

For further information follow the links below.