Dungog Shire Council has an area of approximately 2248 square kms and is bordered by the local Government areas of Port Stephens and Maitland to the south, Singleton to the west, Great Lakes to the East and Gloucester to the North. The LGA includes a variety of landscapes including three rivers and associated catchment areas, bushland, forestry and National Park along with cleared farmlands surrounding towns and villages.
The potential impact of on-site sewage management systems on water quality is of particular relevance within the river catchments, particularly the drinking water catchment of the Williams River which provides the major drinking water source to the Hunter Region.
The Council area is traditionally rural with the main urban population centres in the towns of Dungog, Clarence town, Paterson, Vacy and Gresford. Of these, only Dungog and Clarence Town are sewered.
The Dungog Shire Council On-site Sewage Management (OSSM) Policy was adopted by Council in March 2015.
Council’s OSSM policy confirms Council’s requirements for the following:
1. Operational Framework
This section of the Policy sets out the processes for the issuing of Approvals to Operate, new system installations and the classification and inspection of On-site Sewage Management Systems. The operational Framework is designed to provide an effective and self-funding approvals and monitoring framework for On-site Sewage Management in the Dungog LGA. The approach taken is based on the principles of protection and enhancement of public health and the environment through the cooperative management of On-site Systems by all stakeholders.
During 2014, Council undertook a comprehensive study relating to On-site Sewage Management in the DSC LGA which resulted in the following outputs -
- The development of land capability maps
- The preparation of an Onsite Sewage Management Technical manual ( TM)
- The preparation of an Onsite Sewage Management Development Assessment Framework( DAF)
The Technical manual provides the technical basis for:
- On-site sewage management hazard mapping
- Minimum allotment size
- Maximum lot density
- Rationale for acceptable solution tables
- DAF design procedure, and
- Cumulative impact assessment procedures
The Development Assessment Framework (DAF) - provides Council officers, applicants, consultants and installers with the necessary information to undertake an appropriate level of site and environmental investigation, system design selection and sizing and system installation.
Council’s DAF is used to determine investigation level, system applicability and minimum site and environment assessment requirements for the installation of new and the replacement of existing systems and in the assessment of applications for the subdivision of land in un-sewered areas.
The basis for the DAF is the classification of land into four risk categories (low, medium, high and very high) according to defined topographical, environmental, soil and climate factors. The more constrained the property the higher the hazard class. The level of assessment required for development applications is a function of the hazard class identified for the property. The higher the hazard class the greater the level of assessment required.
Two maps have been developed defining the hazard classes. One map relates to the installation of an on-site sewage management system on a single allotment with a second map defining hazard classes when proposing subdivision of land. Property owners, consultants and installers can access these maps to identify the hazard class applicable to the lot identification details.
Assessment requirements, developed specifically for each hazard class, are used by the installer or consultant to undertake an appropriate level of investigation and prepare and submit the application with the necessary information.
2. Approval to Operate
An ongoing approval to operate your septic system is required in accordance with section 68 and 68A of the Local Government Act, 1993. The operation of a system of sewage management is an activity that requires an Approval from Council (item 10 of Part F of the table in Section 68 of the Act).
3. New Installations
The installation, construction or alteration of a waste treatment device or a human waste storage facility is an activity that requires an approval from Council in accordance with the Local Government Act 1993. Applicants should refer to the Development Assessment Framework ( DAF) to determine the level of detail required to be lodged with an application to install an OSSM.
4. Inspection Process
Council has developed an inspection program for existing on-site systems to ensure those systems meet environmental and health performance objectives set out in the OSSM Policy and in the Environmental and Health Protection Guidelines over the long term. The program involves the monitoring of existing service documentation and programmed on-site inspections.
At present there are approximately 3500 on-site sewage management systems in the Dungog LGA. In order to prioritise and effectively carry out an ongoing inspection program, systems are classified according to risk. Inspections are then carried out at an interval appropriate to the individual systems risk assessment subject to adequate resourcing.
Council will inspect all systems in the LGA with the exception of those identified as Low(TS). Properties will be inspected to the schedule outlined above in accordance with the available resources of Council and individual systems assessed on performance standards as stated in the EH&P Guidelines. An audit report is completed for each inspection with a copy of the report forwarded to the property owner or designated operator. If changes are made to conditions as a result of the inspection, owners are issued with an amended Approval to Operate (with conditions attached).