There are a number of pressures contributing to the degradation of water quality of ground waters, creeks, streams and their associated ecosystems. A primary source of contamination is wastewater pollution from septic tanks. When systems fail there can also be immediate risks to public health.

On this page

The importance of protecting groundwater
Maintaining public health
Responsibilities of property owners
Responsibilities of Council

Good wastewater management practices are important for ecosystem function and public health.

The importance of protecting groundwater

Groundwater is found beneath the earth's surface. Water in the soil seeps down until it reaches a level where the spaces with sediments or rock are saturated with water. This is called the water table. Groundwater moves slowly as it has to flow through small openings in layers of soil and sediment and rock. A rock or sediment layer that is capable of yielding useful supplies of groundwater is called an aquifer. Groundwater from aquifers can be brought to the surface by constructing bores or wells. Water from springs, bores or wells may be of high quality if the source is well maintained and protected.

Groundwater is naturally replenished by rain, whenever this water reaches the sub-surface water table. Ground water also travels and re-emerges at the surface to feed our streams and creeks. It supports hanging swamps and waterfalls. It is used by terrestrial/aquatic ecosystems, as well as for human water supply or recreational use.

Pollution is a major concern for groundwater quality, as anything released into the ground or surface waters can work its way down into prevailing groundwater. Geology plays an important role in the movement of such pollutants. This is particularly true in the Blue Mountains, where there are large underlying areas of free draining sandy soils and fractured sandstones.

Maintaining public health

Sewage contains bacteria, viruses, parasites and other disease causing organisms. Contact with effluent should be minimised or eliminated, particularly for children. Residuals such as composted waste materials should always be handled with care. Treated sewage and effluent should not be used on edible crops that are to be consumed.

Responsibilities of property owners

Operation of the onsite sewage management system is your responsibility. This could mean making changes like conserving water, minimising chemical cleaners and avoiding large or sudden loads of waste water.

You will need a service and maintenance contract with a qualified provider. If selling or leasing a property, you must supply the new owners or tenants with an operating manual.

Odours and surface ponding of wastewater are signs of system failure. Call your service provider immediately. If your system is defective and can’t be repaired. Contact us to discuss replacement.

Responsibilities of Council

It’s our job to monitor the operation of all onsite sewage management systems. A program is in place that requires:

  • Each wastewater system to have a current approval to operate. Five yearly approvals are issued.
  • Absorption systems be inspected (every five years).
  • Service providers to lodge quarterly reports on system maintenance and performance.

We can, and will if necessary, issue orders requiring an owner to take action to comply with state wide regulations to maintain healthy conditions.

There are close to 1,400 properties with on site sewage systems in the Blue Mountains. If you notice odours or surface ponding of wastewater on a property report an issue and we will investigate.

Report an issue