The Environment Protection Act 2017  (the Act) gives councils a range of powers to regulate on-site wastewater management systems (OWMS). These powers apply to OWMS with a sewage flow of 5000 litres or less on any day.

What council officers can do under the Act

The Act and Regulations give councils and council officers functions and direct powers to:

  • issue OWMS permits
  • regulate the management of OWMS
  • monitor compliance to ensure proper system operation
  • take enforcement action to address system failures
  • issue fines for certain offences
  • start court proceedings for certain offences.

In addition, EPA will delegate powers to councils to appoint authorised officers under the Act. As authorised officers they'll have additional powers to take enforcement action for breaches of requirements for OWMS.

Council OWMS enforcement toolkit 

EPA has worked closely with council officers to develop the Regulating On-site Wastewater Management Systems: Local Government Toolkit (publication 1974).

This new toolkit explains the laws for regulating on-site wastewater management systems (OWMS) including:

  • permits and approvals for construction, installation or alteration of an OWMS
  • the laws and duties that apply to those who operate and maintain OWMS
  • delegation of powers to council to regulate under the general environment duty (GED).

The toolkit also covers the role of council authorised officers (AOs) in regulating OWMS. It also provides practical tips and advice on how to investigate complaints and issues about OWMS using the Act’s compliance framework.

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Reviewed 14 May 2021