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Onsite Sewage Management System fees

Changes to the fees and process for renewing an Approval to Operate an Onsite Sewage Management System (septic system)

As of 1 July 2013, the OSMS Approval to Operate (ATO) fee is listed on the rates notice. The 2013/2014 annual fee is $42.50 per OSMS or Equivalent Tenement (ET).

Why do we have a new fee for onsite sewage management systems?

Council has an obligation under the Local Government Act to provide education, assessment and compliance services for the owners of Onsite Sewage Management Systems (OSMS) and the general community.

Surveys undertaken with owners of OSMS indicate that many owners and users of OSMS have a low awareness of how to properly maintain their OSMS, which can be expensive to replace. Similarly, property owners are often unaware of the potential negative impacts that a poorly operating OSMS can have on human health and the environment.

The development of processes and resources to improve the awareness of owners and users of OSMS, needs to be within Council’s financial capacity. Council’s current OSMS compliance processes are being cross subsidised by the General Fund.

On 14 March 2013, Council adopted a Rates Notice fee process to collecting and administering Approvals to Operate (ATO) an OSMS. This has replaced the current process for the renewal of ATOs and the rate is based on number of OSMSs or ET's per property.

The rates notice fee replaces the current written ATO renewal application process and creates a more efficient process for Council and OSMS owners. In addition, the new fee will take some pressure off the General Fund (used for roads maintenance etc).

For many owners, the new fee represents a cost reduction from the current ATO fee of $50 per OSMS or ET. However, some people may pay more than they have in the past and other owners will commence paying.

Within Byron Shire there are over 3,000 onsite sewage management systems and it is expected the fee will raise up to $150,000 per annum which will be spent specifically on the management of OSMS by Council.

What will the fee be spent on?

The fee will help with Council resources to ensure that everyone enjoys an environment free of the potential negative impacts that OSMS can have on human health and the environment.  A well-designed and maintained OSMS can be a sustainable home owner asset that adds value to your property.

Council, in adopting to include the fee on the rate notice, also resolved to develop a revised fee structure for the renewal of an Approval To Operate (ATO) based on a tiered range of fees according to the pollution risk (i.e. high / medium / low).  The pollution risk will also determine the frequency for inspections for each OSMS. This fee structure will be reviewed by Council over time.  The OSMS programs will be implemented in a future financial period.

Council is empowered to charge ATO fees under section 68C and 107A of the NSW Local Government Act 1993.

Why is it important to educate, administer, monitor, and enforce laws relating to OSMS?

The Shire is recognised internationally for many of its natural attributes. Water quality in particular is important for attracting and retaining our primary economic driver, tourism, along with supporting the diversity of primary industries in the shire.

Ratepayers and residents through Council have invested $90 million in a reticulated sewerage treatment capital works program over the past ten years. These programs were aimed at protecting our sensitive natural waterways and ecosystems whilst sustaining water quality and allowing for growth in a Shire that is under development pressure from an increasing population and increasing tourism visits.

Council and the community have a vested anddemonstrable interest in protecting, maintaining and enhancing our waterways and water quality for the benefit of human health and the environment.

Clean waterways mean a healthier environment and
helps support biodiversity