Sewage strategy changes

By Robert Muir

Federation Council’s draft on-site sewage management strategy has been confirmed after changes suggested by ratepayers were adopted.

Council adopted the strategy at its monthly meeting on October 16 following three months of public exhibition and consideration.

Reduced fees and charges, and the following changes have been made to council’s policy: clarifying requirements for commercial and package plant systems; inclusion of how abandoned and derelict houses with septic systems will be managed and when a system is to be decommissioned; inclusion for all new systems installed to be accredited systems by NSW Health; property owners with an AWTS system to enter into a service agreement with an approved service agent; description and examples of failed systems; updated Australian standards and guidelines referenced in the strategy.

“With this strategy, Federation Council aims to have the least intrusion to property owners and residents, with the introduction of a risk rating system,” council’s acting director infrastructure and environment Steve Carmichael said.

“The higher the risk of a system, the higher the frequency of inspections and subsequently fees  - council believes this is an appropriate means of calculating inspection frequency and inspection fees.”

Mr Carmichael acknowledged council’s concerns raised by ratepayers that the proposed fees and charges would be a burden to some property owners.

“Therefore it is proposed that the annual management fee levied on the rates is reduced from $25 to $20 per year,” he said. “The inspection fee is reduced from $154 to $120 and the re-inspection fee is reduced from $100 to $80.

“While the reduction in fees does not allow for full cost recovery to deliver this service, it is recognised that this program provides benefits to the entire community and therefore partial funding from the general rates is considered a reasonable approach in this instance.”

The draft policy was on public exhibition from July to September. “There were 26 phone calls, six written submissions and one submission made in person. There were also numerous enquiries at the counter from people wanting to view a copy of the strategy,” Mr Carmichael said.